Meet the designers with their heads in the stars, competing to build sustainable cities on our nearest neighbour; Mars. Manufacturing is evolving here on Earth as technologies like large-scale 3D printing gain popularity. Students and professionals worldwide have this year taken their innovations a step further in the Mars City Design Competition.
The contest is the brainchild of Mars City Design CEO, founder and ‘Marschitect’, Vera Mulyani. The aim; designing and innovating a sustainable city on Mars. Entrants used their designs to solve the everyday problems of living on Mars. These covered categories looking at structural design, a city infrastructure and agriculture in space.
Twenty design finalists spent two weeks honing their ideas at the University of Southern California (USC), before presenting their projects at a Gala event in September. Ten final winners from across all categories were chosen.
Taking home the accolade of ‘Best City Design’ in the Structure Category was the United Atelier Team, with “Green Cloud City”. Their innovation sees plants and nature captured in a self-sustaining ecosystem. The mini-ecosystems would then be encased in a pod and hung above the canopy like a cloud. The floating green cloud then shields the city below from Mars’s dangerous radiation. In practice, the cloud structure could be made on Earth using existing technologies, and deployed to space. These would work in a similar way to current inflatable space habitats. More immediately, the pods are practical for use in any extreme environment. They could even act as emergency shelters for disaster relief on Earth. The “Green Cloud” provides the solution to water recycling, fresh air and a fresh food source.
In another green-fingered approach, the “Vertical Farm” won best design in the agriculture category. The Galactic Farms team explored a fertiliser to help grow fresh produce on Mars. Their plant fertiliser combines the Martian regolith (the loose dust and rock that covers the planet) with bacteria and bio waste.
When it came to designing the buildings for life on Mars, Matthew Jennings took the award for best design in architecture. His project “Mars Research Colony” proposes the first permanent building on Mars. Once operational, the facility will explore how scientists can develop larger habitable colonies. The whole project aims to address some of the major problems of Mars life. These include the inability to rely on Earth for raw materials; the need to be self-sustaining; and the desire for colonists to live happy, healthy lives.
Projects were on display in a darkened amphitheatre at USC, itself reflecting the Martian landscape. Guests were even welcomed by the unique smell of Mars, a perfume created with the Red Planet in mind. The fragrance will be available to the public in 2017 in Mars City Design’s online store. Taking to the stage to close the event was Apollo astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, sharing his vision of the Martian colony.
The second Mars City Design Competition, taking place in 2017, is now open for registration.