We have imagined the Olympus is located somewhere in the skies, and soon that will no longer be an illusion, thanks to the joint efforts of the architecture studio BIG and NASA. The Project Olympus plans to 3D print habitable buildings on the moon, a step forwards in the journey to make the dream of many to live in space come true.
Until a few years ago, thinking about a machine that could create constructions as seen in a design was a utopia. Today, 3D printers are a reality that lowers costs and times in the construction industry and whose next step is literally not of this world.
A stellar team
NASA is sponsoring Project Olympus, which brings together a team of stars of the architecture and design industry: the famous Danish architectural studio Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the architectural studio specialized in 3D printable homes ICON, and Space Exploration Architecture SEArch+, to give life to an ambitious project that plans to develop homes on the moon, based on materials found on its surface.
The novelty is not limited to “extraterrestrial” homes. We are talking about the development of the technology needed to make lunar matter manageable and stable enough to build. To do this, the Marshall Space Flight Center of NASA in Alabama is working along with the team to develop a lunar soil simulator that allows the exploration of the material, and the subsequent technological development for the construction or “printing” of homes.
If we stop to think about the requirements of an efficient architecture, we’ll certainly consider factors such as sustainability, durability, minimal impact on the environment, functionality, aesthetics, and belonging. And it seems that these criteria stand outside this world.
However, when it comes to lunar construction, the shape of the buildings, the atmospheric pressure to which the materials are subjected, the durability and stability thereof, and how feasible these constructions are at the service of its potential human tenants must also be considered. Taking all this into account, the team chose local materials to reduce impact and waste, also using robotic technology to handle such materials on site.
The construction of these homes represents a challenge in terms of architecture, design, and science in general, needing the development of new mathematical models and scientific experiments that prove the viability of the Olympus Project.
As above, so below
The implementation of Project Olympus will not only be useful on the lunar surface. This is also a model that can then be replicated on other planets, and of course, here on Earth.
After the development of 3D building printing technology with local materials, it is expected that the same practice can be applied in hard-to-reach areas on Earth, reducing construction costs and ecological footprint. So, soon not only the Greek gods will have access to the Olympus, although certainly the cost of a lunar home will be off the charts.