The future of architecture may, soon, be out of this world. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has released the conceptual design for the first full-time human habitat on the lunar surface, called “Moon Village.”
As architect, engineer, and designer of the master plan, SOM had to consider “problems that no one would think about on Earth, like radiation protection, pressure differentials, and how to provide breathable air,” said design partner Colin Koop. “The project presents a completely new challenge for the field of architectural design.”
The firm proposes locating a cluster of three- and four-story inflatable, interconnected modules, protected from by extreme temperatures, projectiles, dust, and solar radiation by a regolith-based shell. The buildings of the settlement would support science, industry and even tourism.
Located at the edge of Shackleton Crater, near the Moon’s South Pole, the site is exposed to near constant sunlight throughout the lunar year—a fact that would allow the Village to rely on solar power and give occupants access to ice deposits within the permanently shadowed depressions nearby.
The Moon Village concept supports the ESA’s goal of future space exploration beyond the year 2050, as well as NASA’s mission to “extend human presence deeper into space, and to the Moon, for sustainable long-term exploration and utilization.”