Index 1. Architecture i. assumptions ii. negatives iii. Mars iv. thesis v. statement of intent 2. In-Situ i. the frontier ii. adaptation & inovation 3. Red Mars i. Past ii. Present 4. Mars Direct i. Zubrin
5. Mars Initiative i. methodology ii. occupant iii. systems integration iv. architecture v. urban planning iv. pre design charrette 6. Green Mars i. speculation 7. Blue Mars
â€œIt would be very interesting to speculate on what the human imagination is going to do with a frontierless world where it must seek its inspriation in uniformity rather than variety, in sameness rather than contrast, in safety rather than peril in probing harmless nuances of the known rather than the thundering uncertainties of unknown seas and continents. The people are going to miss the frontier more than words can express. For centuries they heard its call, listend to its promises, and bet their lives and fortunes on its outcome. It calls no more....â€? Walter Prescott Web, The Great Frontier, 1951
Architecture i. assumptions For the purposes of constructing this thesis a few assumptions will be made. The state of architecture; the profession, the built infrastructure, the performance, and the discourse, are all in a very poor condition relative to the aspirations of architects. The expressed intent of this university thesis program is to explore individualized ideas about how architecture might be improved. That the real (mass) production of architecture on Earth is driven by ecomonic dynamics ranging across all types of industrial resource extraction, processing, and manufacture, much of which is completely out of the architects control. Client and Contractor relations relinquish even more control from the architect. The present day architect is limited in frame of mind in comparison to the ideal master builder described by Vitruvius in the Ten Books. To gain understanding and ultimately make a change to architecture, questions about the greater systems controlling the production of architecture must be considered. â€œthe observation that all studies have a common bond of union and intercourse with one another, will lead to the belief that human nature can comprehend such a great number of studiesâ€?
ii. negatives The problems of architecture are self perpetuating problems of our civilization as a whole. In the present day the majority of the built environment is produced for the expressed purpose of creating profit through the expliotation of the never ending demand for increase in living condition. This is because society believes it is necessary to improve their living condition/comfort through the consumption and attainment of better products. These trends are sustained from generation to generation by the architecture which necessitates it. From the bottom up; industries extract resources as cheaply as possible, the resources are then processed, and manufactured into products which are used to build structures which are used until they falls apart. Presently buildings are built to last for thirty to fifty years to then become nothing more than scrap. To be profit generating buildings must be produced as cheaply and quickly as possible, and then sold at the cheapest prices to as many people as possible. As a result the majority of our built enviornment, especially in America, is mundane, cheap, performatively lacking, spatially irrelevant, and utterly wasteful. Perhaps the most horrifying fact is that this is the landscape in which children grow up; a cornacopia of strip malls, fast food joints, shopping complexes, and acres of asphalt. It should not be a surprise that much of our generation is completely uninspired and unmotivated.
iii. Mars The question remains of how architecture can be changed, reinvented, or evolved into something better. It is the expressed position of this thesis is that because architecture is so intricately related to the greater systems of production and economy, that no change can be made within the existing system which will yeild effective results without drastically altering the greater systems; a task which is very much out of reach for the present day architects of Earth. Instead, this thesis presents a different kind of attempt; one which works in a different context, free from Earthly clutches yet well practiced by humanity in history. This is the idea of the frontier, the idea which captured the imagination of generations past with the promise of freedom and the opportunity to create anew. The same idea which drove 17th century Europeans to make the perilous journey to a land far from safety, and ultimately the same idea which spawned the creation of the most powerful democratic nation of all recorded history. There is arguably no frontier left on Earth; our fragmented yet global civilization has stretched to encompass almost all of the occupiable land mass and its resources are dwindling. In order to find a context free from Earth and its existing infrastructure we must look beyond the Earth and indeed this has been becoming reality beginning with the first trips to the Moon.
iv. thesis The task of creating architecture on Mars is a project which will force all of the systems surrounding architecture to be revaluated. The extreme environment of Mars necessitates absolute necessity at every desicion and action. What is necessary to survive, and how that necessity is fufilled and maintained are the rules of the game. Architecture as we know it simply will not work on Mars, it must be completely reconfigured from the bottom up, from resource extraction to implementation, to provide what is truely necessary to the propagation of life on the new planet. v. statement of personal intent The intent of this thesis is to present the audience with the undeniable possibility and potential which our civilization is not only currently capable of achieving, but arguably must be achieved in order to secure the future longevity of our species and life as a whole. The methods and technologies have already been devised by engineers and scientists yet the world is largly unaware and apathetic towards these ideas. This thesis will serve to conjure the imagination by providing a framework for life on the new planet, a place where Earthborne indivduals can picture themselves living and creating a new way of life. Specifically for the betterment of architecture here on Earth, this thesis intends to explore relationships between the industrial and economic systems which control the production of architecture which are simply not apparent in an Earthly context. Through the examination of architecture in a wholey alien context, notions of what is necessary in archtiecture and how to achieve it may ultimatly have relevance to architecture on Earth.
In-Situ i. the frontier The major theme of this thesis revolves around the idea of the frontier and surviving in the frontier. The frontier is an important idea in this thesis because it is an alien context which forces adaptation. In order to formulate a new kind of architecture a totally alien context is necessary to free the process from the stagnation and inertia created by the existing system. Therefore to escape the existing system and truely create something new, as little baggage so to speak must be brought along. In other words, the people must adapt to a new way of life using what is there in the frontier or suffer demise. In-Situ is the notion of making use of what is readily available and mutable without requiring external systems. How can we create architecture on Mars which will sustain life and simply be created from what is there already? What resources can be found on Mars which can be easily processed into building materials? How can these resources be processed, and how can they be configured into buildings which will retain a breathable medium? These are the kinds of questions which are forumlated in-situ.
ii. adaptation and inovation To use In-Situ tactics is the beginning of an adaptation process which will be necessary to survival in the extreme environment of Mars. Architecture on Mars will need to be adaptable and long lasting to allow for change and innovation to occur. For instance, when newer technologies or advancements to the infrastructure happen, the prexisting framwork is able to update and evolve rather than become obselete. This thesis will attempt to create an urban framework which will be adaptable and scalable by making educated guesses at what kinds of construction and technological capabilities the settelers will have on Mars. The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin will also serve to bring a level of realism to the planning.
â€œIn the 400 million years since some fish left the ocean, their compatriots who stayed behind have not changed much, but the descendants of the emigrants have evolved legs, wings, feathers and fur, far-seeing eyes, nimble hands and clever brains. The future is best served not by those who remain behind to walk in the footsetps or swim endlessly in the wakes of their ancestors, but by those who dare the unknown, willing to risk all to take on the challenge of the newâ€? R.Z, Entering Space, 2000
i. Past â€œBecause we are still those animals who survived the Ice Age, and looked up at the night sky in wonder, and told stories. And Mars has never ceased to be what it was to us from our very beginning - a great sign, a great symbol, a great power. And so we came here, it had been a power; now it became a place.â€? K.S.R, Red Mars, 1993
Mars, once called Ares, is now known to be the fourth planet from the sun, a barren world of dust storms and robotic rover missions. But there is more, the narrative of Mars is much older, a story which dates back to Classical antiquity, a time of myths and gods. Mars, the red bright light which can be seen clearly by the naked eye was first recorded being observed by the Eygptians in 1534 B.C. Three thousand years later Galileo first observed Mars via telescope. Mars eventually made its way in to stories such as the outlandish Mars Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey took the next step in making the imagry of humanity on Mars and in space seem real. Now after flying several successful missions to Mars including rovers humanity has gained an unprecedented amount of knowlege about Mars and the planet is no longer in the realm of fantasy but very much in the realm of reality.
Mars Direct i. Zubrin To ground this thesis in as firm a reality as possible it will be built on the existing research and writing of Robert Zubrin. The plan known as Mars Direct is Zubrin’s brain child and it outlines a comprehensive strategy on how to colonize Mars using the resources which are directly avilable. Mars Direct is a proposal for a Manned mission to Mars. Proponents of the scheme have claimed it to be both cost-effective and that it can be conducted with current technology. It was originally detailed in a research paper by NASA engineers Robert Zubrin and David Baker in 1990, and later expanded upon in Zubrin’s 1996 book The Case for Mars. Proponents of Mars Direct have suggested that the heavy-lift boosters required would be no larger than the Saturn V used for the Apollo missions. The first lauch would bring an unmanned Earth Return Vehicle to the red planet, with a supply of hydrogen, a chemical plant and a small nuclear reactor. Once there, a series of chemical reactions (the Sabatier reaction coupled with electrolysis) would be used to combine a small amount of hydrogen (8 tons) carried by the Earth Return Vehicle with the carbon dioxide of the Martian atmosphere to create up to 112 tonnes of methane and oxygen. 96 tonnes of these would be needed to return the Earth Return Vehicle to Earth at the end of the mission, the rest would be available for Mars rovers. Proponents of the scheme have suggested that this process would take approximately ten months to complete. Some 26 months after the Earth Return Vehicle is originally launched from Earth, a second vehicle, the “Mars Habitat Unit”, would be launched to coincide with a low-energy transfer window to Mars, and would carry a crew of four astronauts. This would not be launched until the automated factory had signaled the successful production of the chemicals. The habitat would take some six months to reach Mars. On reaching Mars, the upper stage would be jettisoned, with the Habitat Unit aerobraking into Mars orbit before soft-landing in proximity to the Earth Return Vehicle. Precise landing would be supported by a radar beacon started by the first lander. Once on Mars, the crew would spend 18 months on the surface, carrying out a range of scientific research, aided by a small rover vehicle carried aboard their Mars Habitat Unit, and powered by the methane produced by the Earth Return Vehicle. To return, they would use the Earth Return Vehicle, leaving the Mars Habitat Unit for the
ii. Mars Habitat Unit The Mars Habitat Unit is a 2- or 3-deck vehicle providing a comprehensive living and working environment for a Mars crew. In addition to individual sleeping quarters which provide a degree of privacy for each of the crew and a place for personal effects, the Mars Habitat Unit includes a communal living area, a small galley, exercise area, and hygiene facilities with closed-circle water purification. The lower deck of the Mars Habitat Unit provides the primary working space for the crew: small laboratory areas for carrying out geology and life science research; storage space for samples, airlocks for reaching the surface of Mars, and a suiting-up area where crew members prepare for surface operations. Proponents of the design have argued that protection from harmful radiation while in space and on the surface of Mars (e.g. from solar flares) is provided by a dedicated â€œstorm shelterâ€? in the core of the vehicle. The Mars Habitat Unit would also include a small pressurized rover that is stored in the lower deck area and assembled on the surface of Mars. Powered by a methane engine, it is designed to extend the range over which astronauts can explore the surface of Mars out to 320 km. Since it was first proposed as a part of Mars Direct, the Mars Habitat Unit has been adopted by NASA as a part of their Mars Design Reference Mission, which utilizes two Mars Habitat Units - one of which flies to Mars unmanned, providing a dedicated laboratory facility on Mars, together with the capacity to carry a larger rover vehicle. The second Mars Habitat Unit flies to Mars with the crew, its interior given over completely to living and storage space. To prove the viability of the Mars Habitat Unit, the Mars Society has implemented the Mars Analogue Research Station Program (MARS), which has established a number of prototype Mars Habitat Units around the world.
i. methodology The process of studying and researching Zubrinâ€™s mission architecture is the foundation of this thesis and will allow the project to move ahead with a grounded plan. Mars Initiative begins when Mars Direct ends after ten years and will focus on the establishment of a permanent colony. The colony is sited at the best location determined during the Mars Direct mission. At the conclusion of Mars Direct (ideally) there will be a total of 10 habs and 60 people spread out on Mars. This thesis will assume that all of the people who travel will choose to stay and contribute to the construction of the colony. The following questions will be used to judge every decision made in the project. The following list is presented in a bottom up fashion. 1. Where does the resource come from? 2. Does it require machinery to extract this resource? 3. Does the processing require machinery? 4. Are there multiple stages of processing? 5. Can the building material be easily configured? 6. Can the building material achieve an air tight seal? 7. Do the spaces allow for multiple uses? 8. Do the spaces allow for change in infrastructure? 9. Are the buildings able to aggregate continually over time? 10. Is the urban plan condusive to expansion? 11. Does the place fufill the needs of a permanent resident? 12. Do the spaces allow for individualized expression. The project will be a design problem from the ground up, from the production of the matierial, to the creation of a space, to the organization of a building, to the aggregation and connectivity of these structures, and finally the gradual growth of the colony as a whole.
ii. occupant The primary importance of the Mars colony will be to sustain life. The colony will be designed with this principle in mind, working up from the bare necessities of life such as breathable air, food and water, but then also the psychological and social aspects. All of these necessities are diagramed in the following modified Vitruvian Man.
ii. systems integration With an understanding of the occupant the next task will be to understand the systems integration of the colony. The way that the life support necessary elements are produced and circulated.
iii. architecture Once the systems have been forumlated the next task will be to figure out the material extraction and processing. For instance, one simple idea presented by Zubrin is to make bricks out of the Martian regolith. This is a relatively easy and requires only simple machinery.
iii. urban planning With an idea about what one can build with on Mars and how the next task will be to consider the greater aggregation of the spaces and also how the spaces might be upgraded over time to become more comfortable and luminous. How will the colony expand and grow over time to reach the population of 600.
iv. pre design charrette In order to better explain how these ideas will manifest architecturally a quick design charrette for the formation of a brick Mars space was conducted. The sketches shown on the next few pages work from the bottom up beginning with resource extraction all the way through the urban planning and systems integration.
draft version of my senior thesis project scope