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Can we live on Mars?


March 19, 2018
March 19, 2018 (All day)
Geological Society of London Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BG   View map

Join the royal Academy of Arts for this discussion on architecture in outer space, in which a panel of experts explores the questions extra-terrestrial living raises for technology as an industry and humanity as a whole.

On 6 August 2012, Curiosity successfully landed on Mars, resulting in world-wide celebration coupled with expectations for the future. In 2017, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, announced that the company had been approached to offer two people the first private trip around the moon in late 2018. These events proved to be a springboard for a renewed general interest in the conquering of outer space and speculation about living beyond Earth.


In recent decades, although many architects and designers have been fascinated by the possibilities that life in outer space could offer – attracted not only by the its limitless potential, but also the associated technical challenges – only a handful have been actively engaged in extra-terrestrial projects. Of the few who have collaborated with space agencies on the design of structures set to orbit the Earth, the most notable is architect David Nixon; he worked with NASA in the 1980s on the early design for the International Space Station, one of the most complicated and expensive structures built by mankind.


Today, space technology is no longer exclusive to government agencies, and private enterprises and adventurous individuals are increasingly becoming involved. In addition, frontiers have expanded to look beyond the moon, which presents a number of questions, both technical and ethical.


A panel of experts, comprising of speculators on, and designers of, architecture in outer space, explore innovative solutions to how it could be realised and what ethical challenges it presents for humanity.



Irene Gallou – Head of the Specialist Modelling Group at Foster+Partners

Jorge Mañes Rubio – artist-in-residence in the European Spatial Agency (ESA) and designer of The Moon Temple

Rachel Armstrong – professor of Experimental Architecture at Newcastle University, and author of Star Ark: A Living, Self-Sustaining Spaceship

Victor Buchli (chair) – Professor of Material Culture, UCL; author of An Archaeology of the Immaterial; editor of Home Cultures


Can we live on Mars?

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