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Making A Martian Home: Finding Humans On Mars Through Utopian Architecture

Jeevendrampillai, D; Parkhurst, A; (2021) Making A Martian Home: Finding Humans On Mars Through Utopian Architecture. Home Cultures 10.1080/17406315.2021.1962136. Green open access

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Abstract

A renewed public and state interest in space exploration in recent years, coupled with technological advancements in rocket science and architectural systems, has made design and engineering initiatives for Martian living tangible and urgent. This article traces the practice of utopian architectural design of a home on Mars. This home has been described by its architects as a ‘place for people’ and for ‘all of humanity’. Off-Earth habitats have traditionally been designed with emphasis on the functionality of surviving extreme environments. New designs for Mars aim to make human-centric homes in which people can be comfortable. However, when confronted with the known realities of the Martian landscape, such designs reconfigure the place and form of the human. The Martian landscape requires that a home shelters the human body from hostile elements through totalising closed loop architectural systems. In such extreme architecture, the human form is configured as a calculable body, and becomes ‘erased’. This article ethnographically traces how the human is imagined in such design practice and asks what happens to the idea of the human through informed design thinking as architects meet space scientists. It traces how utopic motivations to build a space ‘for all humanity’ are challenged through the material and practical reality of making design choices and exclusions. The ethnography follows the figure of the human as it is imagined as an emergent Martian lifeform which confronts the problems of the different gravity, light, radiation, and terrain that a life on mars would entail. Considering how the concept of ‘living’ might be possible in a future Martian habitat involves the practice of imagining radically alternative forms of life. By tracing how these are imagined, contested, and considered this article asks how practices of conceptualising radical alterity relate to understanding oneself as connected to the enduring idea of being human.

Type: Article
Title: Making A Martian Home: Finding Humans On Mars Through Utopian Architecture
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/17406315.2021.1962136
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/17406315.2021.1962136
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, Trading as Taylor & Francis group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Keywords: mars, habitat, anthropology, architecture, design, outer space, Utopia
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10137144
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