Architecture on the moon : Space Tourism and Scientific Research Habitat

Architecture on the moon : Space Tourism and Scientific Research Habitat

20 July 1969: Mission Apollo 11 is a success. Man sets foot for the first time on the moon. “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

48 years passed, and yet we are still scratching Space's surface. From the desire to express one country's political superiority, Space is expected to become a place for leisure with time. With Mars One for instance, we will get to watch the lives of the first ever human colony on Mars.

Victor Jesus Del Carpio Torres, emerging architect from Peru, decided to focus on a project that would allow extended stays on the Moon. These stays would allow Space tourism, but more importantly will be a Scientific Research Center. Because of these two different yet complementary usages, because Space Tourism would fund partly for research, Victor attached a great deal of importance over the aesthetic aspect of the structure. He ended up with this giant sphere inspired by the moon’s unique context and landscapes. The building seeks to be a frame to the Earth; it seeks to connect with celestial bodies and astronomical events with a unique architecture, resulting in new landscapes that become part of the architecture of the cosmos.

We interviewed him about his future plans and his ambitious project : 

Above all, tell us about yourself in a few words: Where do you live, study or work at the moment?

I am an architect from Arequipa, Peru. I studied architecture at Universidad Nacional de San Agustín de Arequipa (National University of Saint Augustine of Arequipa). My work is focused on architectural design, theory, urban design and planning. I am currently working in several projects and also doing research and writing.       

One sentence to tell us about your project

My project, Architecture on The Moon, is a lunar habitat for scientific research and space tourism that connects with celestial bodies and astronomical events to generate new landscapes.

Was does your project mean to you?

This project was an opportunity to explore architecture beyond Earth. For me, it means exploring new ways of making architecture. It’s an opportunity to rethink the way we live and to look in a new way our relationship with the cosmos and our place in it. For me, it’s a kind of manifesto. I always wanted to design something outside the Earth. So, although this project is not built, it has been the beginning of this exciting adventure that is designing in other worlds.

What challenges did you face during the creation process of your project?

The main challenge was the integration of the idea, the program, and the rigorous technical aspects of designing a human habitat in an uninhabitable environment. During the development, a point of synergy was key to get all the components working together as the architectural idea, which was about the building being in connection with the celestial bodies, so it means the size of the building needed to be a result from its landscape integration and its functionality. There were other challenges too, for example, redefining technical components and processes, like the typical horizontal access to a habitat, in this project the access is through an elevator that goes up 11 meters to the airlock. There were also challenges in designing the life supporting micro ecosystem and solving the 3d printing building process of the habitat, which would be made out of graphene, the material of the future.

How does it feel to try to be one of the most visionary architects in the world?          

It’s a very exciting experience to be able to compete among so many architects and designers from a lot of countries around the world with amazing projects. It gives you an image of your work’s progress, this experience gives you an enriching feedback, because you find that there is much more work to do, and you see that there is so much potential in the times we are living in that needs to be developed, and that inspires you and pushes you forward.

Do you think the Foundation played a crucial role in your project’s advancement, visibility?

Definitely. There are some aspects of my project I am seeing now that I didn’t before because of the competition, it makes you see your work critically and that produces a continuous improvement of the project, and of course, the foundation has played a key role in giving visibility to my project, something for which I am really thankful to them.

Why participate in such a competition? Would you do it again?

I would definitely do it again. I entered this competition because I wanted to be part of the enriching experience that is a competition about some of the most important current issues such as the sea, sea level rise and space. Because in terms of learning you always win, the moment you submit your proposal you have already learned and gained knowledge that will inspire you later to go even further.

 What’s the next step?

A further development of the project, there is still potential that needs to be explored, maybe I will try to take it to virtual reality, and of course try to give it more visibility to be part of debates around the issues about architecture beyond earth, because this debates produce new ideas and thinking that raise awareness around the fact that we can make architecture from and for other worlds, not just functional settlements, but architecture that means something. Also, I think we need to explore new ideas and the design possibilities of the built environment on Mars and other worlds beyond.

A word of advice for this year’s participants?

Go for it! Do not hesitate! Choose your best project or idea and develop it, imagine that it will be built, so develop it to be real not just the idea, but the whole. Make a good graphic presentation with the best quality you can, and show the best of your project, and the most important thing, have a good time in the process and make it happen!