TEnglish artists from Bristol recently unveiled a strange house that could be our home if we lived on Mars. The hidden message behind this action? To build awareness among the general public by inviting them to think about the limited resources we have on Earth.
The idea of exploring and making habitable Mars as a kind of Earth escape plan in order to preserve the human race has long been the subject of science fiction scenarios but also more serious endeavors. In fact, millions of dollars have been invested in the exploration of the Red Planet, with the goal of developing space tourism, or even settling there one day in the event that Earth becomes uninhabitable. It’s a hypothesis that has earned Mars the nickname ‘Planet B’… and it has inspired the work of English artists Ella Judd and Nicky Kent of Bristol.
In partnership with British firm Hugh Broughton Architects and design studio Pearce+, the artists have created an inflatable house made entirely of recycled materials. This work was created as part of the public art project Building a Home on Mars, which explores how people would live on Mars. Their installation was displayed for more than two months on the sidewalks in downtown Bristol, with passers-by invited to take part in furnishing this strange structure of the capsule with pink-orange walls; Inside it notes gardening hoses and plants – for example, herbs.
Behind the house are seven years of work and collaboration with scientists, architects, engineers and designers. The structure is powered by solar panels and is designed to be able to withstand environmental challenges that can be encountered on Mars, such as temperatures of -63 degrees Celsius and exposure to radiation. Covered in a golden roof made of aluminum sheets and built from a pair of old shipping containers, this artistic creation is filled with everyday objects, designed with great care and sometimes with surprising details: a pillow, for example, was filled with lavender and mustard seeds and natural vegetable dyes were used to create color on the textiles.
But far from standing as promises of a peaceful future life, this “house” on the contrary invites us to think about the limited resources we would have had if we lived on Mars. “The project uses the Go to Mars scenario as a lens to reflect on our lives here on Earth – they ask how we live now and how we would like to live in the future,” explained Ella Good and Nicky Kent to London Design and Architectural Magazine Dzen.
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A subtle message not unlike that of the satirical “1%” ad broadcast by the environmental movement “Fridays for the Future” in February 2021 to denounce Mars-focused space programs funded by the governments of several countries in the world (the United States with the Perseverance Vehicle, the United Arab Emirates and their Hope probe, China and the Tianwen 1 orbiter), as well as the biggest fortunes on the planet (including Elon Musk with SpaceX). “The 1% government-funded and wealthy world space programs focus on lasers on Mars (NASA’s Perseverance Rover alone costs $2.7 billion to develop, launch, operations, and analyze) and yet most humans will never get a chance to visit or live on Mars. This isn’t due to a lack of resources — but the fact that our global systems don’t care about us — and refuse to take equitable action. With 99% of the world’s population remaining on Earth, it is imperative that a statement issued by the organization upon the release of the video said, “Fix the climate change destroying our planet.” We better fix climate change now. We simply have no choice.”
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