MIT Wins Design Competition for Cities on Mars

MIT Team developed the Redwood Forest, a series of connected domes designed for life on Mars.

Nine students from MIT representing different engineering and art majors recently won the Architecture prize from the Mars City Design Competition. The competition’s mission is to “create a blueprint for sustainable city on Mars.” Vera Mulyani founded the competition and wanted to make sure that humanity can think beyond just traveling to Mars, and live there sustainably in the long term.

MIT’s design was the Redwood Forest, a system of domes that would each house fifty people. The domes would be public spaces filled with plants and water, with several tunnels under the ground connecting the domes. Roots could also offer protection from radiation, thermal variation and micrometeorite impacts.

Other 2017 awards were given for Urban Design, Transportation, Sustainable Energy, and AI. A special focus in 2017 was a partnership with the March Studio of the Woodbury Design School and Otis College of Art and Design. The exhibit showcased Interior Design ideas, pointed toward an eventual Mars hotel. Much of the design activity centered around construction of the outer walls, managing energy in day vs night situations, and pulling energy and living space from lava tubes.

The 2018 competition focuses on the Mars City in the year 2100 with a spotlight on materials, location, and infrastructure. Vehicles will ideally be cheap, fast, efficient, and able to go to any of Mars’ diverse environments. The four categories for awards are Architecture & Urban Design, Engineering & Transport, Robotics and the OTHER category. The organization encourages inventors to bring their own innovations to the competition, and uses examples of Agriculture, Crypto Currency, HairStyle or other technologies.

It’s very encouraging to see private groups working to develop ideas about Mars exploration and colonization. The added design constraints of surviving on the planet’s surface while doing more exploring and learning about the Mars environment makes for interesting designs and problem statements. Seeing the focus on bringing engineers and artists together adds depth to the technical design with better graphics and visuals. Semi-finalists for the 2018 competition will be announced in January 2018.

(Photos and video courtesy
MIT Alumni Association)