The Visitor

Project

Human settlements have suffered huge transformations through history. From the very first little villages next to rivers or materials to the 21st century ultra high density modern metropolis,  cities have evolved in such an amazing way that nowadays both resources and space are scarce. Due to this we have asked ourselves some questions:

# What is the purpose of uncontrolled urban sprawl?

# Does the growth of the cities have any limit?

# If this growth is not reducing, is it possible to look for alternative models of colonization?

# Can this lead us to look into other planets?

We have a clear answer to these questions. Cities will be the device that will conquer other worlds, and in order to do that, technology and urbanism will inevitably work together in space exploration.

The “spatial era” started trying to send a human mission to the Moon. Now, 30 years after, the scientific programmes are focusing to land on Mars. Words as colony, settlement or martian are common to us. Could we imagine that way? How will be the rockets have developed to that moment? Based on the design and size evolution of the air and space transport we could approach to the next gen: A rocket city, a visiting society to another planet.

Moving to Mars needs to solve the transporting and the construction system to build a new home for the humanity. However, The Visitor, presents a balance where the vehicle and the living facilities are together, just like a skycrapper with engine motors. The whole structure works as a building containing a colony.The building-vehicle provides energy and supplies as a part of the living system.

The Visitor integrates water supplies with labs and living species conservation projects, spaces for investagation and innovation as well as facilities for cropping and farming. The modular structure results as a great skeleton which holds a variety of modules and containers which are essential for establishing a base. Energy is provided by reactor and the deployment of different platforms as solar panels or turning the wings when the structure is landed into rotating eolic wings generating energy.

The project is ready to leave the planet once the mission is completed or moving to other locations deppending climatic conditions.

A city inside a vehicle, a spaceship capable of making cities in other worlds. .

Interview

What prompted the project?

The proposal is our submission for the Evolo Competition 2018. The brief asked for new visions on skyscrapers and revolutionary ideas related with density and its effect over our cities and living environments. What concerned us the most at that moment was the possibility of exploring how skyscrapers, due to their size and scale, could result in self-sufficient isolated devices, that then could be completely independent to the urban environment they are part of. Then some questions were formulated: What possibilities could arise from that condition of urban independency? How would they reflect over society?

What informed your interest in potential inhabitation of planets as Mars?

As cities are experimenting an unstoppable growth over the last years, the idea of looking for alternative solutions for this growth becomes completely necessary, since our planet cannot afford such a big variation in those numbers because of the impact they have in climate or resources demand. Then Mars positioned itself as one of the main options that are being already explored by specialists, since it is commonly believed that life could be hosted there due to its characteristics.

But, what it the relation between skyscrapers and Mars? The possibility of enclosing so many functions and processes inside the same building led us to the concept of community, as a self-organized group of people that share certain infrastructure and habits. If skyscrapers can hold certain grade of autonomy due to their scale, than we assume they could host a little community once all their needs are included within their shared space. That fact, understood as a mere concept, could work as a colonisation strategy: a device that is already prepared for subsistence and that could be working on its own is sent to the red planet, so the proposal is about how this autonomous community reaches a completely new environment and gets used to it, progressively transitioning to the new conditions.

What is your take on projects as space agency? Do you see these as viable solutions/projects?

Apparently Mars colonisation has to deal first with many issues that are out of the scope of architects since they do not have to do with design but with technical feasibility. Once it is guaranteed that life could take place in Mars it will be possible for projects to be more accurate and viable, but until them they will remain more as concepts or ideas. Nevertheless, it is known that many times imagination and ideas serve as a way to drive innovation, so even if projects like this one or the ones developed by BIG, or Foster and Partners (in this case it addressed moon colonization) seem far away from realistic, probably they will establish themselves as an starting point to new ideas on how this transition to new planets could happen, or simply as a model that can be pursued by the technique so they can be finally possible in a few years.

What role do you envision for the architect operating on Mars? How and to what extent will we have to adapt the tools through which he operates?

Definitely they can play a key role on defining how these new experiences and spaces are going to look like, but it is certain that they will need to surround themselves by teams of experts in different fields that guarantee that these colonisation process is effective in general terms.

In our opinion the tools will remain the same, the only difference is that conditions and constraints will be different so the results will probably look different as well, but it should not affect tools and procedures more than any other location or economical conditions.

What about building materials?

Since transportation of material from Earth is really difficult, almost unthinkable (specially if we think about big scale developments), new products made out of existing materials in Mars surface will be needed. Some tests have been conducted on dust-based materials and several ideas have been launched based in inflatable systems, but none of them seem like solid and realistic proposals that could be applied to a real big-scale colonisation.

To what extent can we define and use the term 'city' in extra terrestrial projects? Will these urban agglomerations challenge the very notion of what we understand as a city?

We can find the origin of the term city in the roman concept civitas understood as a group of people that live in the same space sharing a certain legal body, with the intention of making urban management and spatial expansion of the Empire easier. Even if in the beginning of urban civilisations there was certain debate between these civitas that understood the city from an economical point of view and the greek term polis that relied the concept city on people (as described by Pier Vittorio Aureli in his book The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture), management imposed itself as the main characteristic of urban agglomerations after the term urbanisation appeared in the late 19th century.

From this point of view it seems like cities will remain cities, even if they are located in a different planet, since their primal objective is to perpetuate life by organising the relations between those who inhabit it and guaranteeing the supply of resources. The great question is how this basic needs would change from one planet to the other and how they will transform our relation to spaces, since new architectures will appear as new needs, processes and ways of interacting with the environment show up.

What is for you the architects most important tool?

As explained before, we think that architects will succeed while they keep using effectively their mind to position themselves in the intersection between architecture and all their peripheral fields of work. From sociology to technology or history we must be active and open to different opinions and approaches coming from very different directions, since our activity operates as a mediator between all of them. Whatever the final images of buildings are, we should focus on what is behind them, on the global strategy and the possibilities and transformation that our actions can trigger.

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