AI SpaceFactory recently won NASA’s competition to design a home for Mars—and now they're offering an opportunity to stay in the out-of-this-world dwelling. Called TERA, the eco retreat will be 3D printed out of the exact same biopolymer basalt composite used to create the competition-winning prototype (which collapsed only after rigorous testing).
The plant-based, NASA-tested material has three times the strength of concrete, and it can be recycled or resorbed back into the earth at the end of the structure's lifecycle. The install process will also tread lightly on the surrounding ecosystem—for example, a laser scan of the build site will eliminate the need to level the forest floor.
In designing for Mars, AI SpaceFactory has taken galactic steps for sustainable construction practices. "We realized the materials and technology we developed for long-term missions on Mars had the potential to be leaps and bounds more sustainable than conventional construction on Earth," says David Malott, AI SpaceFactory's CEO and chief architect.
The company points their finger at concrete because it's the most widely used substance after water, and it's egregiously wasteful. Ten billion tons are produced yearly, and only 20 percent is reusable.
The egg-shaped tower features a minimal yet functional design, and it will be outfitted with green building technology—like a gray water system and solar power. The entry level will feature a living area with a bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room with a terrace that spills into the outdoors. Curving, wooden stairs will lead to a more private second level, where renters will be able to peer out of diamond-shaped portholes for a glimpse of the region’s natural splendor.
To date, supporters of the company's Indiegogo campaign have raised around $50,000. As more donate, the site will see additional eco upgrades—like an aquaponic garden and an off-grid radiant heating and cooling system. The grounds will already feature carefully plotted pathways to guide visitors during their stay.
AI SpaceFactory sees TERA as a living laboratory that will eventually inform an official build-out. They may have shot the moon when they designed for Mars, but only time will reveal the prototype’s effect on the home construction industry, and Earth itself. Malott is confident: "TERA will challenge everything we know about architecture and construction. It could transform the way we build on Earth—maybe even save our planet."