Living off Earth II Lab – Border Sessions
And Beyond

Living off Earth II Lab

Building upon the success of the ‘Living off Earth’ lab held for the first time at Border Sessions 2017, we are happy to announce the second lab day. The goal of this lab is to enhance the knowledge of differently educated people with respect to the building of Off World settlements.

The challenge

In the first workshop the design process dealt with small settlements sized for a 100 humans on the Moon, Mars, in open space and on an asteroid. In this new workshop we go to the next level and ask participants to explore the design of a human settlement for 10.000 people based at one of the following locations:
· Utopia Planitia on Mars
· Mare Tranquillitatis on the Moon
· in orbit around the Earth
· In the clouds of Venus


How people will live, work and entertain themselves in space habitats are issues that should not be left to professional space engineering organisations alone, but for which a wide variety of people can have ideas and find innovative solutions. The lab provides a contribution to this by engaging small teams in contemplating long-term space habitats. People of all different fields of expertise (both technical and non-technical) will be combined into small groups of up to six people to look into several aspects of developing a space community of 10.000 and what is needed to sustain it.

Lab day at a glance

At the start of the day the organisers will set the scene with a short introduction on the purpose of the lab and some specifics of the different potential space settlement locations. For instance, Mars has plenty of natural resources, but travel times are high and supply from Earth is complex and expensive. The Moon’s low gravity gives new architectural freedom, such as the discarding of stairs because inhabitants could easily jump from one floor to the next. Supply opportunities for a space settlement in Earth orbit are many, but there are no natural resources readily available apart from solar energy. In the carbon dioxide atmosphere of Venus an altitude can be found at which the air pressure is equal to that on the Earth’s surface, but oxygen will need to be locally produced and mining resources from the extremely hot surface will be a major challenge.

Some background information and inspiration will be provided by a brief look at various ideas and projects from the past, such as the space colony designs of the 1970’s and the lessons-learned from the troubled Biosphere Two experiment.

Next, the participants will be divided into multi-disciplinary teams to brainstorm and assess the critical areas required for a large space habitat at a location of their choice. Lab participants will then use most of the day to develop their concepts through the definition of requirements and constraints, the identification of locally available resources and their potential use, architectural options, supply of food, water and air, and the social challenges related to living in relative isolation.

Later in the day a guest lecture (TBD) will be given on a topic related to the lab.

Of course there will be breaks, and lunch will be provided. At the end of the day each team will be invited to briefly present their ideas and the main features of their designs.

Read about last years’ Living off Earth I lab in Ruimtevaart magazine.


Stephanie is a design research MRes candidate at the Royal College of Arts. Her current research is on designing health and wellbeing in extreme (space) environments. Originally trained as an engineer, her work straddles between technology and design. As a freelancer, her professional focus is on space, wearables and health. In her spare time, she has been producing space community events and a FashTech show.


van Pelt