The 570-square-foot prototype features an “underground” layer—where one can find compact bedroom pods and a special “Martian loo” developed by Duravit—that is contained in a ground-level converted shipping container. The “above-ground” structure is located within a pressurized, foil-coated inflatable and functions as a living and kitchenette space. On Mars, the thick inflatable walls would be filled with Martian regolith (soil) in order to be robust and insulating, but in Bristol they are filled with air to enable reuse of the structure.
The project team has also taken into account the experience of daily life and wellbeing, and through a series of public workshops gathered input on what would make life in a Martian home happier. “We wanted a future built by people, rather than a technocratic vision,” says Kent. As a result, there is a sensory hydroponic garden room filled with plants, curated by artist Katy Connor, as well as a skylight and windows out onto the landscape.
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Throughout the Martian home’s residency in Bristol, the interior design will develop and evolve with the help of volunteers, feeding in ideas for everything from furniture and wallpaper to clothes and toiletries, with a focus on items that are repairable, multi-functional, and zero waste.
Being immersed in the strangeness—and let’s be honest, terror—of how to actually live on Mars highlights just how urgent it is to take better care of our own planet, to ensure it can remain habitable. And this is a key ambition of the closed-loop, resource-efficient project: as resources dwindle and conditions on our planet become more extreme, the Martian home encourages one to consider how we can more sustainably live on Earth. “It’s not a finished answer,” says Kent. “It’s a place for conversations.”
Building a Martian House is open to the public from 31 August to 30 October 2022 at M Shed Square in Bristol, UK.