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BIG and NASA are working together to design 3D printed buildings for the moon



BIG and 3D-print building company ICON has revealed that they are working on Project Olympus, which aims to build robotic construction for the moon.

The architecture firm and SEArch + (Space Exploration Architecture) were hired for the ICON project after it received a government contract of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funded by NASA.

Called Project Olympus, it aims to develop a way to create a 3D printed infrastructure for living on the moon using materials found on its surface.

Project Olympus of BIG, ICON and SEArch +
Project Olympus aims to explore the formation of the moon

“At ICON we are initiating new boundaries – both material, technological and environmental,” said BIG founder Bjarke Ingels.

“To explain the strength of architecture, ‘formgiving’ is the Danish word for design, which literally means to give form to the undeclared,” added Ingels.

“It will become clear initially when we venture across the Earth and begin to think about how we will build and live in completely new worlds.”

Working with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the team will use a lunar ground simulant to investigate a 3D-printed construction.

Project Olympus of BIG, ICON and SEArch +
Build structures using robots

While other projects have proposed inflatables or metal structures, Project Olympus is intended to create a solid construction that is environmentally friendly to the moon. The team said that by using 3D-printing and local materials it will also be more sustainable and reduce waste.

“We have researched various building forms that are ideal for containing atmospheric pressure and optimized for protection from cosmic and solar radiation.”

“The dwelling will be designed with the natural redundancy required for extraterrestrial buildings, while also using groundbreaking robotic construction using only in-situ resources with zero waste left.”

Eventually, Project Olympus could also offer a more sustainable example for development in the world, according to the team.

“3D printing with native materials is a sustainable and versatile construction solution in another world that will prove to be important in our future here on Earth and in Outer Space,” added SEArch +.

“With the technologies and efficiency parameters developed for the construction of extraterrestrial buildings, Project Olympus will also help us establish stability on planet Earth as we strive to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment,” said BIG partner Martin Voelkle.

Project Olympus of BIG, ICON and SEArch +
The team works at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville

ICON receives government funding for offshore exploration after work to develop more sustainable construction using 3D-print robotics, software and advanced materials. In 2018, it finished the first 3D homes printed in the US and construction recently began on “the first 3D printed community of homes in the world” in Mexico.

It chose BIG, which previously designed a Mars simulation called Mars Science City in Dubai, and SEArch +, for Project Olympus.

“Building the first human home in the world will be the most ambitious construction project in human history and will push science, engineering, technology, and architecture to new heights,” said ICON founder Jason Ballard.

The project forms part of NASA’s commitment to exploring moon life, which includes Artemis’ program to place the first female and the next male in astronomical bodies in 2024. Earlier this year, NASA named Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos, Spaceon of Elon Musk and Alabama -based Dynetics as three teams to build vehicles for the landing plan.

The agency also operates the 3D-print space Habitat Challenge, which discusses architects and designers to think of 3D printed houses for deep space.

A number of firm firms are also investigating the building on the moon.

Last year, SOM announced that it had partnered with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to design the inflatable Moon Village as “the first permanent human settlement on the moon”.

In 2017, British firm Foster + Partners released a proposal to 3D print buildings on astronomical bodies. Recently, a collection of projects that illustrated life on the moon for the Moontopia competition.


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