Future Martian research colonies will awaken to a large sun rising over Olympus Mons, and a mechanized stillness - a hum through the ductwork that saturates the structure.
According to Scott Henriksen, a graduate student at the University of Utah School of Architecture, a research colony on Mars should resemble interconnected giant mushrooms growing up from the iron red surface with tubular tentacles reaching out to find footing for new growth. The morning sun will cast a white highlight on the eastern edge of the mushroom domes.A few years prior to the colonization of Mars, the lightweight inflatable structure would be constructed on Earth. The deflated domes and their accompanying connector tubes would be designed to fit into a space shuttle payload bay and boosted into space orbit around the Earth. There, the domes would be reloaded into a transport vehicle for the eight-month trip to the red planet. On Mars, the dome and accompanying modules would be unloaded and pneumatically inflated.
According to its designer, "each module is specialized in function with lab, habitat, multipurpose, sickbay and galley functions." The modules would be specially designed to provide everything - including the production of food - necessary to maintain life for the long periods of time between transport shipments from Earth.
To provide thermal insulation and protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays, the inflated habitat would be covered with earth. (I suppose the appropriate term would be mars, as in "I tilled the mars and planted flowers in it.")
The Martian habitat is intriguing. It is a very cerebral, yet simplistic solution to the architectural and engineering problems presented and, according to another architecture student, Wally Chan, such a design should rest upon an underlying theory that "man, science and the universe all have a certain order upon themselves."
Chan believes good architecture should represent " . . . both the confrontation of these orders and the reconciliation of these orders."
Therefore, Chan's design of a more down-to-earth dwelling in Canada nonetheless considers deep space because of his architectural philosophies.
In his exploratorium for the physical sciences in Vancouver, British Columbia, Chan is trying to focus on the deepest frontiers yet to be confronted by man. He insists that his exploratorium should take its visitors on a journey - "a procession through the architecture whereby one progresses from the more simplistic sciencific exhibits to the more cerebral `thought experiments'."
If you consider this less explorative than Henriksen's Martian habitat, consider his example: "The general accepted theory is that the universe is expanding. Therefore to traverse across the universe one must travel at the speed of light. But at the speed of light, time stands still and space is reduced to the size of a pinpoint. By using our minds, we can imagine such a space and still know this universe just as we see it."
Wow! I can't understand it, but it sounds terrific.
Another architect interested in space is David Robert Hunter. His research facility, though hardly mundane, is based upon concepts somewhat less esoteric than Chan's. Titled the Johannes Kepler Multifunctional Space Station, it is to be erected according to Hunter, "in the early 21st century. It's main design premise is that it will rotate two revolutions a minute to create an artificial gravity in the living quarters. The experiments and work stations that require non-gravity will remain at the center of rotation where gravity will be zero or on free-flying space platforms in orbital `sync' with the space station."
Perhaps the best aspect of all three projects is the attitude encompassing them. The students are willing to consider a depth of study and thought progression that is out of the ordinary.
Henriksen or Hunter may never design a space station, and Chan's objective of having his building occupants enter into a depth of thought he is considering, may not be commonplace but it is nice to know that the students of architecture are considering problems with such creativity. Such creativity will have an impact upon the more conventional, but no less dramatic earth structures designed by these future architects.