While Foster + Partners aren’t busy thinking about their projects across the pond (the new Apple Campus and modifying the New York Public Library) the firm is thinking about a project across the atmosphere where they one day hope that using moondust in giant 3-D printers will churn out some architecture.
By using the abundant lunar regolith (the fancy word for moondust) and a combination of inflatable domes and 3-D printing technologies, the design firm has helped the Europoean Space Agency imagine how a human habitation might take shape at the moon’s southern pole. Together, they’ve already started to test wall geometries inside a vacuum. It’s one small step closer to lunar habitation, but still giant leaps from happening.
A partner at the firm, Xavier De Kesteller had this to say about working on the project.
“As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials – our lunar habitation follows a similar logic. It has been a fascinating and unique design process, which has been driven by the possibilities inherent in the material.”
But the material so abundant on the moon’s surface has its own risks along with the benefit of its abundance. One of the world’s largest and most successful firms, Foster + Partners may have experience in extreme climates here on earth, but the lunar surface is a different kind of extreme. The site is unlike anything on earth, and the hardest challenges to overcome may be the ones we aren’t even aware of.