3D-Printed Ice Houses Win NASA’s Mars Habitat Competition

This article originally appeared on ArchDaily.

NASA, who recently confirmed evidence of flowing water on Mars, has deemed SEArch (Space Exploration Architecture) and Clouds AO (Clouds Architecture Office) winners of the3D Printed Habitat Challenge for Mars. Sponsored by NASA and America Makes, the teams were asked to use indigenous materials and 3D printing techniques to build a habitat for four astronauts on Mars. SEArch and Clouds AO’s first prize proposal, ICE HOUSE was awarded $25,000, ahead of 30 other shortlisted practices.

“Recognizing that water is the building block to life, the team used a ‘follow the water’ approach to conceptualize, site and construct their design,” said SEArch and Clouds AO. “[Our] proposal stood out as one of the few entries not to bury the habitat beneath regolith, instead mining the anticipated abundance of subsurface ice in the northern regions to create a thin vertical ice shell capable of protecting the interior habitat from radiation while celebrating life above ground.”

From the winning team: The architecture of ICE HOUSE celebrates the presence of a human habitat as a beacon of light on the Martian surface. The design emerged from an imperative to bring light to the interior and to create visual connections to the landscape beyond, allowing the mind as well as the body to thrive. While scientists have experimented with what could potentially be synthetic replacements for sunlight, artificial substitutes do not hold nearly the same circadian variance or ability to balance a crew’s mental and physical health as does experiencing the sun’s actual and unmediated daily cycles. The water ice counteracts the traditional danger of living above ground by serving as a radiation barrier, offsetting fears of solar exposure that have, until —> Read More