Who are the first colonizers of Mars?
The people going to the new planet are explorers. The astronauts, scientists, space tourists and brave settlers unite in their common desire to discover, experiment and invent – to learn. Together they will create a new version of humanity, maybe as near as it gets to real-life utopia.
The place where they live must fit into their lifestyle of exploration. That is why the first Martian colony is a learning city. It can serve as an architectural and social laboratory – experimenting to create a new cultural and scientific heritage – a Martian one.
The terrestrial knowledge is, naturally, used in the process. The very first Martian habitat has to be designed by the people here on Earth. However it seems reasonable to assume that once on Mars, the colonizers will face the unknown and will adapt their knowledge to fit into their new environment. Therefore the city structure is prepared for the unpredictable. It allows space for growth and welcomes diversity – in building materials, construction technique, functional systems, scale. It doesn’t expect the very first architecture to become the tissue of a future city. With many iterations of trial and error the city will develop into real vernacular Martian architecture – one which can only truly be born when we’ve already arrived there.
Colonizing the new world provides an unprecedented opportunity to design and consequently build a city from scratch. However the urban plan has to allow for rapid civilization growth. The goal is to permit as much liberty as possible while creating an urban order and logic. The Learning City it is a 4D model – considering not only space, but also time. It assures a healthy and functional communication system, while leaving space for the specifics to be evolve in the future. The plan can accommodate multiple technological ideas, making the city a truly collective creation.
Public spaces – squares, streets, plazas – are the building blocks of a city. On Mars we can’t have street life as we know it. The environment between the buildings is deadly. The city’s inbetween spaces have to be designed.
In the Learning City the transport network between buildings are not narrow tunnels, as often seen in Mars visions. Here the communication area is also the most attractive one. It provides everything needed for psychological comfort. Access to daylight, safe open space, vegetation, social life. Public and social spaces shaped according to the principles of universal design make the place human-friendly at all scales.