November 04, 2015

Creating a Home on Mars

Part of KieranTimberlake's Community Involvement program, Mars City is a pro bono project that seeks to better engage students in an educational virtual reality simulation.

KieranTimberlake was recently featured on an episode of the KCRW radio show, Design and Architecture. The segment, entitled “Is Mars Habitable?” focuses on Mars City, an immersive, interactive, and educational 3D simulation of a human colony on Mars. The pro bono project is intended for students ranging from high school physics scholars to architecture undergraduates, and has recently generated some buzz following the success of Matt Damon's new film The Martian

Designed to be a self-sustaining environment for approximately 100 people, Mars City is comprised of several different modules that are constructed using 3D printed materials. Students involved in the simulation are responsible for troubleshooting any issues that arise, as well as for making all necessary repairs. 
Partnering with Kerry Joels and the Total Learning Research Institute, KieranTimberlake has been evolving the design of this educational tool in order to create a more engaging and realistic virtual environment for the students involved in the project. Through a virtual reality simulation, students will ultimately be able to walk through a complete and fully finished Mars City in order to asses potential problems. 
In thinking of the completed Mars City design, Lea Oxenhandler and Fatima Olivieri, both of KieranTimberlake, explain that one of the unique challenges of building on Mars is creating a sense of home for humans in an environment that does not allow easy access to the outdoors. To overcome this difficulty, Mars City is working on incorporating nature into its design, whether that be through windows that let in natural light, common areas to create a sense of public and private spaces, or an open design that gives the illusion of space. One of the key questions that the Mars City project hopes to answer, according to Olivieri, is “what type of material can be functional, but can also start to create a sense of place and create a sense of home?”  
To listen to the complete podcast, click here.