The First Martian City Design

Dubai is a city where firefighters use jetpacks, archipelagos are built from scratch, and buildings climb into the clouds; a slick metropolis in the middle of a vast red desert. First-time visitors would be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled onto a film set for a sci-fi movie.

Now Dubai is set for what must be its most other-worldly architectural project yet.

In 2017, the United Arab Emirates announced its ambition to colonize Mars within the next 100 years. But architects are already imagining what a Martian city might look like -- and planning to recreate it in the desert outside Dubai.

Mars Science City was originally earmarked to cover 176,000 square meters of desert -- the size of more than 30 football fields -- and cost approximately $135 million.

Intended as a space for Dubai's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to develop the technology needed to colonize Mars, architects Bjarke Ingels Group were asked to design a prototype of a city suitable for sustaining life on Mars -- and then adapt it for use in the Emirati desert.

How to build a Martian city

For this unique commission, the architects first had to overcome the immense challenges of creating a design to make the inhospitable environment of Mars habitable.

Mars has a thin atmosphere and no global magnetic field, so there's little protection from harmful radiation. Temperature is another problem -- the average on Mars is a chilly -63 degrees C (-81 degrees F). The thin atmosphere also means there's little air pressure, so liquids quickly evaporate into gas; despite freezing temperatures, an unprotected human's blood would boil on Mars.


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