MARS – EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTERVENTIONS: The Jordan AA Visiting School 2017Profile

by Kais Al-Rawi
Director of the Jordan AA Visiting School

19 May 2017
Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

 

The prospect of human colonisation of outer space has become much closer to reality than it was a few decades ago. This mission has been focused primarily on the planet Mars, as it represents the best candidate for future inhabitation in terms of travel distance and environment. While Mars is arguably the next most hospitable planet within our solar system, it’s climate, atmosphere, gravity, and surface water present challenges to human life.

 

A series of aerial photographs of Martian landscapes © NASA JPL Caltech

A series of aerial photographs of Martian landscapes © NASA JPL Caltech

Architecture, design and engineering rapidly become critical disciplines to the viability of such colonisation. The design criteria of inhabitable spaces on Mars poses a series of highly utilitarian requirements to make such spaces inhabitable due to the challenges of the environment on Mars. Simultaneously, the planet possesses a spectacular diversity of landscape topologies and morphologies. As designers, we are constantly inspired by nature. Mars unveils a new nature for us to study, research, document, and transfigure into design ideas. Through such design-research and the use of cutting-edge design technology, an opportunity exists to create a new architecture that is responsive to such an environment, simultaneously inspired by it and aspiring to coexist and fuse into its nature. That very specific opportunity, mindset, methods and cutting edge technology are the core focus of the upcoming visiting school in Jordan.

 

A series of photographs of landscape topologies in the Wadi Rum Desert

A series of photographs of landscape topologies in the Wadi Rum Desert

For the first ten days of July the intensive course will speculate on potential architectural interventions within the Martian landscape. The agenda of the AA in Jordan for the past four years is at its very core about appropriating design intelligence from nature. This year, we transition from exploring nature on earth, to nature on Mars.

 

At the southern edge of Jordan lies the Wadi Rum Desert, a natural UNESCO world heritage site. The morphology of the landscape of Wadi Rum is distinct from any other with its natural rock formations and red sand. It has often been associated with Mars, and is the closest place on earth to Mars, given their strong resemblance. We will inhabit the Wadi Rum desert for two days and visit the neighbouring city of Petra which is known for the architecture that is carved within its stone landscape.

 

Petra, Jordan – UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of the world.

Petra, Jordan – UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of the world.

In 2015, Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ featuring Matt Damon was filmed in the Wadi Rum desert with minimal edits to the landscape. The main editing was limited to the blue sky, which was transformed into red to represent dusty atmosphere on Mars.

 

Wadi Rum Before and After editing ‘The Martian’. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC.

Wadi Rum Before and After editing ‘The Martian’. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC.

We continuously aim towards processes and workflows capturing the synthesis of cutting-edge design tools with design and research of such phenomena on one level, and on another it has been about the spatial and architectural outcomes that emerge from this experimentation. We deliberately delimit ourselves from one method, tool or scale of intervention. Rather, we operate in a unit system where three overarching units investigate different software platforms and tools, different scales and types of interventions to generate an array of outcomes.

Wadi Rum Before and After editing ‘The Martian’. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC.

Wadi Rum Before and After editing ‘The Martian’. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC.

This year, we intend to study various components of architecture for Mars, that will focus both on technology and fabrication with local materials and additive manufacturing methodologies, as well as on the spatial architectural experience. As a bigger ambition, we hope to speculate on a network of spaces that could form a potential self-sustaining colony on Mars.

 

We have been fortunate over the past four years to have had an exemplary experience: joined by over one-hundred enthusiastic individuals from over twenty-four countries from all around the world; in addition to several notable guests joining us from London, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vienna and Stuttgart. This year, we are excited to have Rob Mueller from NASA share his expertise and years of experience researching technology developed towards reaching Mars.

 

Guest Lecture by Senior Technologist Rob Mueller from NASA.

Guest Lecture by Senior Technologist Rob Mueller from NASA.

There are a few limited spaces left for the ‘MARS’ Visiting School in Jordan. Join us for an extraordinary architectural experience!

 

For more information:
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