Inflatable building in Bristol to experiment how we could potentially live on Mars

“Building a Martian House” is a public art project that maybe would help us to reassess our life on Earth.

Developed by artists Ella Good and Nicki Kent, in collaboration with Hugh Broughton Architects and Pearce+, “Building a Martian House” is a public art project in M Shed Square, Bristol, UK, that has made a prototype of a real Martian house. Imagining how a small community would live on Mars offers a sharp lens on our lives here on Earth today and on our relationship with consumerism.

The two artists have worked on the project for seven years, bringing together space scientists, engineers, architects, designers, and school children, and also collaborating with a team of experts in creating buildings for extreme environments, such as Antarctica.

Martian House interior.
Photography by Luke O'Donovan.

To develop the design, they considered what materials were already on Mars and what we can be taken there. An inflatable structure, filled with rubble, or regolith, has been developed, and an underground level making use of lava tubes that occur in the crust of the red planet. “The key thing about when you’re living on Mars is you need your buildings to be completely airtight because the atmosphere outside is essentially poisonous,” said Hugh Broughton, principal architect on the project. “We’re essentially using the inflatable structure as formwork for our concrete enclosure”.

“This is a place for people to think about future living and how the scenario of life on Mars relates to their lives on Earth. […] On Mars you’d have to live on a really small, resourceful community. You’d have to fix everything when it breaks, you’d have to really consider every aspect of your daily life. [This is] a place for thinking about all of those questions,” Good said.

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