Architecture – What does it mean to build a habitat on the moon? The most basic elements on Earth such as air, stable temperature, water, and food are not available and must therefore be considered in a lunar base design. In 2020, SAGA Space Architects tested their LUNARK habitat on a spectacular mission in northern Greenland lasting nearly a hundred days. The astronauts’ home and personal experience are on show at the A SPACE SAGA exhibition at the Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen until September 4.
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Along the way, they became much wiser about what it takes to build a home for somewhere other than Earth, where such basic things as air, stable temperatures, water and food are not available and therefore require a whole new way of thinking. The project also investigated the psychological effects associated with isolation, narrated in a documentary.
At the center of the exhibition is the lunar base itself. Developed in collaboration with researchers, LUNARK is designed to fit in the cargo hold of a rocket ship. Inspired by Japanese origami, the habitat can be folded and unfolded again after landing, increasing its volume by 750%. Making it compact during transport but spacious when astronauts move into the 4.5 sqm.
There, astronauts eat, sleep and exercise until it is time for them to return to Earth. But how do you live in such a small space? SAGA space architects Sebastian Aristotelis and Karl-Johan Sørensen designed a tight space requiring practical thinking about food since there is limited storage space.
There’s also a limit to how many items you can take with you, so everything has to be carefully considered. On top of that, there isn’t much room for privacy, and a high-tech spacesuit designed to keep the astronaut warm, even at -45 degrees Celsius, is the only option for going outside the habitat to stretch your legs and get some alone time.
“A natural daylight cycle is a gift we take for granted here on Earth. It influences our sleep and sense of time. You don’t have it in space. We developed light panels that simulate circadian rhythms using LED lighting to resolve the issue. A solution like this can help improve astronauts’ quality of life,” explains space architect and cofounder of Saga Space Architects, Sebastian Aristotelis.
In addition to LED light panels, SAGA Space Architects is working on other initiatives, including bringing living organisms such as algae into space. Besides being able to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, algae is a fast-growing source of proteins and essential vitamins and minerals. The architects have also teamed up with French perfumer Francis Kurkdjian, who has helped them create different fragrances designed to give astronauts stimuli from Earth for the sense of smell.
SAGA Space Architects is a small Danish studio specializing in space architecture. The firm consists of a passionate team of architects and engineers who are on a mission to help civilian and professional astronauts not just survive in space but thrive. SAGA designs analogue space habitats and architecture for extreme environments to prepare for the day when life in space goes mainstream.
All photos are by Claus Troelsgaard and SAGA Space Architects, courtesy of the DAC Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen, Denmark.
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