The London architecture firm is working with the European Space Agency to investigate methods for constructing lunar homes and has designed a four-person residence that would shelter its inhabitants from dramatically changing temperatures, meteorites and gamma radiation.
The base of the house would be unpacked from a modular tube and an inflatable dome would fold up over it. Layers of lunar soil, known as regolith, would then be built up around the frame using a robot-operatedD-Shape printer, creating a lightweight foam-like formation that is derived from biological structures commonly found in nature.
"As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials," said Foster + Partners partner and specialist Xavier De Kestelier. "Our lunar habitation follows a similar logic. It has been a fascinating and unique design process, which has been driven by the possibilities inherent in the material."
The architects have used simulated matter to build a 1.5 tonne mockup of the structure and have also tested smaller models inside a vacuum chamber. They hope to construct the first structure at the moon's south pole, where it will be subjected to perpetual sunlight.
All images courtesy of Foster + Partners.