A detailed concept for a lunar habitat, created by one of the world’s leading architectural firms with ESA technical support, is currently on show at the Biennale in Venice. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, originator of many of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, worked with ESA on a semi-inflatable habitat design which could be part of a long-term vision for an international Moon settlement.
The resulting design is on show at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (@BiennaleChannel). While the theme of the overall exhibition is ‘How will we live together?’, the SOM installation is called ‘Life Beyond Earth’, peering beyond our post-COVID-19 planet to show how human life can be sustained in the hostile space environment.
The installation encompasses two large-scale, physical models and this film, bringing Biennale visitors on a journey from Earth to the Moon’s surface.
SOM designed a semi-inflatable shell structure to offer the highest possible volume to mass ratio. Once inflated on the lunar surface, it would reach approximately double its original internal volume.
A lot of work went into the four-storey habitat interior, in terms of lighting conditions, reconfigurable features, and a high floor to ceiling space, to allow crew members to take advantage of lunar one-sixth g using grabbing bars and other simple aids.
Its chosen site has been described as the most desirable real estate in the Solar System: the rim of Shackleton crater beside the lunar South Pole. Avoiding the crippling temperature extremes of the Moon’s two-week days and nights, this location offers near-continuous sunlight for solar power, an ongoing view of Earth and access to lunar water ice deposits in adjacent permanently-shadowed craters.
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