Ever wondered what it would be like to live on Mars? Participants of the Mars City Design competition were asked the same question as they got involved in the planning of sustainable cities on the neighbouring planet for the future. A team of architects and engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have bagged the winning title for their urban design in this competition.
The design, titled Redwood Forest, includes domes of tree habitats that up to 50 people can occupy. They contain open, public spaces along with easy shirt-sleeve transportation. The domes would contain abundant water supply harvested from the planet’s northern plains and the tree habitats would be built on top of a network of underground tunnels. This would provide access to private spaces which can be occupied by a community of about 10,000 people.
“On Mars, our city will physically and functionally mimic a forest, using local martian resources such as ice and water, regolith (or soil), and sun to support life. Designing a forest also symbolises the potential for outward growth as nature spreads across the martian landscape,” says MIT postdoc Valentina Sumini. She adds that the roots would offer protection from cosmic radiation, micrometeorite impacts and extreme thermal radiation.
The MIT team included nine students from various departments and research groups and was led by Assistant Professor Caitlin Mueller. The aim of the project was to build a comfortable environment for inhabitants with the help of location and system architecture. The project also had its focus on sustainability.
“Each tree habitat incorporates a branching structural system and an inflated membrane enclosure, anchored by tunneling roots. The design of a habitat can be generated using a computational form-finding and structural optimisation workflow developed by the team,” said Sumini.
“Every tree habitat in Redwood Forest will collect energy from the Sun and use it to process and transport the water throughout the tree, and every tree is designed as a water-rich environment,” said George Lordos, who was responsible for the system architecture of Redwood Forest.
Designers also state that many of these designs can also be useful on Earth and that electric vehicles travelling in underground and multi-level networks can ease traffic congestion.