University of Bristol: Contribute to the design of a full-scale Martian House in Bristol

The house has been designed to withstand the real environmental challenges faced on Mars and inspire ideas about how we can all live more sustainably.

The brainchild of local artists and Watershed Pervasive Media Studio residents, Ella Good and Nicki Kent, the Building a Martian House project brings together space scientists, architects, engineers, designers and the public, to explore how we live and to stimulate visions for new ways of living on Earth and on Mars.

As construction begins, applications are sought from members of the public who are keen to help create the interior of the house. No experience or prior knowledge is necessary! The interiors team will work alongside the artists to design and make prototype objects to go inside. Applications are via this form and close at midnight on 30th July 2022.

The University’s space and engineering experts, Professor Lucy Berthoud, Dr Bob Myhill and Professor James Norman, have advised the team on what inhospitable conditions and environmental challenges they could expect on Mars – such as average temperatures of -63C and exposure to galactic and cosmic radiation.

Taking these insights into account, the house was designed by world experts in extreme architecture, Hugh Broughton Architects, in partnership with design studio Pearce+. Together they have created a lightweight prototype building, made from a pressurized, inflatable gold-coated foil, which could be easily transported to Mars.

Starting as an empty shell, the interior of the house will come to life as the artists and audiences explore what a new, sustainable culture might look like. The interior will be co-designed with the public, and once the exhibit opens, will provide a space for a programme of events, research and talks dedicated to re-thinking life on Earth by exploring the challenges of life on Mars.

Artists Ella Good and Nicki Kent said: “Considering how we might live on Mars helps us re-think every aspect of our lives here on Earth. Mars is a place where you’d have to live carefully and sustainably and that brings how we live today – and our relationship with consumerism – into sharp focus.

“Our ‘Martian House’ has been a collaborative effort and we are thrilled to invite people to join our interiors team so we can collectively imagine how things might work in a zero-waste environment. We hope our project shows we can all have input into how we think about the future”.

Professor Lucy Berthoud, Professor of Space Systems Engineering at the University of Bristol, said: “This project offers us a clean slate to look at how we can live sustainably on a planet, with low power, zero emissions and zero waste. It’s really important to have the diverse community of the city of Bristol involved, as we will need everyone’s skills and ideas for exploring and living on Mars”.

Hugh Broughton, Director, Hugh Broughton Architects, said: “Ella and Nicki have developed an alluring egalitarian concept for ‘Building a Martian House’. The envelope and life support systems are being designed by specialists in the fields of space exploration, extreme environments and sustainability with the interiors being designed by the public through an extensive engagement process. The outcomes will be varied, exciting and provide an alternative approach to space design which represents the interests of everyone, not just governments and the super-rich.”