If humans successfully colonize Mars in the future, what kind of homes will they inhabit? NASA and MakerBot recently hosted a competition which tasked people with making a 3D-printed model home suitable for the Red Planet. Noah Hornberger won with his Queen B (Bioshielding) concept home, which offers food-for-thought concerning the future of interplanetary architecture.
Like the B-and-Bee festival shelter we recently featured, the Queen B model comprises a space-saving and modular honeycomb design that's flexible, durable, and compact – though in this case, the hexagonal modules are laid out flat rather than stacked up into the air.
"A building with outstretched arms, wings, nodes, or branches is not practical for long-term efficiency and stability" explained Hornberger. "It would be nearly impossible to keep warm due to heat dissipation through the venerable areas."
Each of the 10 modules measures 4.87 m (16 ft) in diameter, and they are arranged around a central lounge area that contains a couple of couches, a TV and a charging station. The modules themselves contain a kitchen, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a garden, laundry room, and a 3D-printing lab.
The Queen B features a roof made from depleted uranium and other dense elements, which Hornberger reckons would reduce radiation to safe levels for those inside.
Since it gets rather chilly on Mars (the average temperature is around -80ºF/-60ºC), Queen B is placed atop a large subterranean container that's filled with water and heated with either an underground electric heater or a more exotic-sounding exothermic chemical reactor. This would keep the base of the home relatively warm, and the heated water would also be pumped into the Queen B's insulated walls and radiators.
Hornberger points out that having plenty of steam available opens the way for steam-powered generators, which could supplement any electricity harnessed with solar panels.
An underground air purification system handles the Queen B's air mixture into the Queen B, though Hornberger also sensibly says that a reserve tank of pure oxygen must be retained in case of emergency. As the plant life of the apartment continues to grow, the designer says it could be possible to reduce or even turn off the synthetic pumping in from oxygen generators altogether.
Obviously, the Queen B isn't going to be built full-size and shipped to Mars any time soon, and the model seems far-fetched at this point. Still, it's a compelling vision of what such homes could eventually look like, should a future Mars colonization indeed take place.