Mars City is radical in creating a new urban environment developed for the challenges of Mars, redefining ideas of “above” and “below” ground.
Once scientists have established a permanent base on Mars, the next goal will be to start a successful Martian colony. Transporting supplies to Mars will remain quite expensive, so efficiency will be crucial. Therefore, it makes sense to use as many materials found on Mars as possible, rather than transporting material from Earth. One of the most important will be Martian regolith. It provides a natural shield from radiation as well as insulation from the extremely cold Martian climate. Once a few robotic excavators have been landed on Mars, they can set about excavating underground spaces, powering themselves through solar or nuclear energy. This will be much more efficient than flying the required amount of materials for a similarly sized above ground space, a much smaller amount of material from Earth is needed.
Underground living may raise some questions of comfort and suitability for the Martian colonists. Humans have often been averse to underground spaces. However, this is simply due to an innate fear of dark and cramped spaces. If the space is light and open enough, we do not even feel as if we are underground. Mars City will be an example of this, redefining for Martian colonists, notions of “above-ground” and “underground”. With the creation of a new base line level for the city blocks, it is likely a more nuanced sense of space will arise, creating a third type of space; “mid-ground”.
It is important to note though that for the first Martian Colonists creating an environment which is psychologically beneficial will be very important. Maintaining mental health will be critical and the environment will play a large part in that. However, the goal will not be to replicate Earth on Mars as closely as possibly but to develop a new form of environment specifically to cater to the particularities of Martian life. It will still look somewhat “Earth-like” as anything too drastically different and colonist may find it difficult to adjust. Things like the use of plants throughout the Martian City will contribute to the creation of an environment which is simultaneously engaging and relaxing for the colonists and will help them feel a sense of familiarity on this new frontier.
The city has many features which contribute to its smooth running; the flexible grid that combines the city block with the Martian Dome; aeroponics are used to grow food for the city in large vaulted agricultural spaces with the aid of grow-lights; a network of unpressurised tunnels allows for efficient rail transport and keeps the street almost entirely clear of traffic; air-lock fail-safes should one part of the city be damaged; and finally building cores which house a system to recycle water, waste and air.