#59 | arc08 – Proposition for the “Bubble” and the sky on Mars

Hi guys!

I have heard the news that morning about three missiles used by US supported by France and UK because they found chemical weapons in Syria. It makes me really wary of the overall situation. Oh well, I won’t talk about politics today.
Other news, in a TED conference, it seems Elon Musk had a greater goal after going to Mars (and it is not surprising). I guess he has already planified his own lifetime on his masterplan and decided to build the foundations of something bigger. In parallel, NASA and Blue Origin are also in a great way for reaching Mars. It is the first time in human history that we will see a travel to another planet… The rockets will be the most powerful of all history. Isn’t it exciting?
Since 1960, we are in a new technological era for space exploration. We live in a great moment in History, and yet, we still live in war, racism, and other issues that still occurred on Earth. The Cold War was just a recent event and we are all afraid that it will only be the beginning.
Humans are so better than this and I know it.


The sky on Mars is really not the same compared to the Earth. It does not rain, it does not change into beautiful different colors unless at night or at sunrise and we can’t feel wind if we go outside, because humans can’t leave without a spacesuit. We can’t have a direct interaction with Mars environment other than touch through the suit and visual with a powerful reddish color of the soil due to the oxide.

fig.01 – On the right page, you can see a quick sketch of a concept. The left page is the explanation: we need to get something in between the vastness of Mars environment, leaving us the feeling of emptiness, and the confined place inside the dome, that will give us the feeling of isolation and solitude. The reason to give this distance between the outside and the inside is for the “personal bubble” reason. Yesterday, I’ve thought of one single but important issue: each individual have his own “bubble”, so it is not possible to quantify it with just meters squared. If crewmembers live together in one place, without defining there personal “room”, it is not possible for them to live together because the freedom of one can encroach on someone else. So it is important to get a limit of their personal place, the question is: what is the limit of the personal place if we know that the Bubble will extend over time? Well, in urban planning, you need to get a land in order to build something on it. So, it is important to give a specific territory for each membercrew which will become their personal place. If the bubble grows over time, so will grow the plan with an extension.

On page 51 of Jean Cousin’s book, “Espace vivant: introduction à l’espace architectural premier”, he said something very interesting about the importance of the perception of the limits in architecture. The environment can influence human perceptions in different matters and it is really hard for an architect to give a proper solution to the issues. In general, it is psychological disorders that give us a hint on how we have to change our way to live in a specific environment. One point on the matter is the perception of vastness and containment. The notion of vastness included the influence of the empty place: Mars is the outside and the outside is unknown and too vast with no landmarks. There are no trees, no rivers, no clouds. It is a place with no weather changes, unless dust storms, rock hills, and an unchanging sky. It is why the context of the habit we wanted to build is not appealing. If the context isn’t habitable for the humans, we need to create it.

The sky needs to change, we need surprising events. Something from the outside that can reach the inside. Light is one thing but the weather is another thing. It is something that can be random with any simple algorithm and can be safe for the humans. So: make it rain or make it snow.

Another issue is the structure of the building. The first thing in our mind is the importance to construct with a modular inside. We can frame it with a square or polygonal plan. There are a lot of good points for this kind of structure: anti-seismic system, Japanese construction with landscape frame, Le Corbusier (a famous French architect) also use this kind of system. It is really simple, and it is also really easy to construct. You only need to be able to give a structure pattern that can support the entire building: platforms can be used and you can even free the ground plan to elevate the structure on the upper stories.
On the technical point, even if the robots can make the dome and the inside with 3D print (and it is important for the low-cost constructions), I also think it is important to the crewmembers to build their own place. Building with their own hands can make the object more personal and give them more importance to the habitat than a predeterminate place, that’s why I think a modular system based on simple components (easy to remove and to bring along) in a Do It Yourself process can be really important for the inside of the habitat.

For the roof, it is interesting to give a slope to a roof but there is no reason to built it if there are no violent winds or rain. A roof is there to protect ourselves from the weather and a window can let the light enters the inside. It also helps us to see what happened outside. We don’t need to complexify the basic functions of architectural elements but we need to use them carefully to be able to make the Mars Habitat, our “home”.
In the thesis of Evangelia Chrysikou about therapeutical architecture, she talks about the importance to give the feeling to be “home” to the patients. It helps to heal the mental and to limit the stressful environment. Pieces of art can also be a great help in this kind of place, people who live in the Mars habitat simulation tend to experiment “creative process” in a very short time (their free time) but they need a lot more time. That is what they actually need to not stress out.

In the next article, I will probably try to draw a bit more with “creative” concept environments and a fictional creation rather than pure technical issues.


What did I learn?

  • A bit more about the sky and soil on Mars (heavy rain).
  • The notion of vastness and landmarks on psychology and connection with Artifacts.
  • Learning some details on Voronoi graph and triangulation of Delaunay.

Thank you for the reading !


Don’t hesitate to take a look at the precedent “arc”hitecture articles:

#31 | arc00 – Architecture: correlation between human body with space and time
#33 | arc01 – Outside/inside, Objects and Oriented space
#35 | arc02 – The “Box”/”Bubble” personal space and a (really) brief introduction to Hi-Seas Mars missions.
#41 | arc03 & chr00 – Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMars) and introduction to Chronobiology
#43 | arc04 – Updating methodology and introduction to a spatial programmation
#49 | arc05 – Simulation contraints and a draft of the space configuration
#55 | arc06 – Flowchart and algo-rhythm of the methodology
#57 | arc07 – First rough sketch and explanation of the concept

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