Smout Allen

George Bradford Smith Y5

Manipulating Mount Blanc: Preparing for Martian Frontiers. The European Space Agency (ESA) currently use altitude cabins within the Mont Blanc Massif region, selected for their low air pressure and seclusion, two of the environmental conditions similar to living on Mars. These altitude cabins analyse how astronauts will adjust to living in extreme conditions alone for long periods of time. 

In the future prior to humans inhabiting Mars, astronauts will be required to spend time in a training facility that offers similar psychological and environmental conditions as those encountered on Mars. 

‘Manipulating Mount Blanc’ proposes a training facility offering the ESA a clearer insight into how astronauts acclimatise and adapt to the environmental and psychological challenges of Mars. Located close to the summit of Mont Blanc and within a valley 1000 metres above sea level near the French-Swiss border the building aims to passively simulate Martian conditions within the Alps. In this way, the proposed architecture uses one accessible extreme environment to recreate another. 

The passive, high altitude astronaut training facility simulates primarily Martian light, sound and temperature. This is achieved with a number of individual simulation components located externally and internally to maximise the effect of the site environmental characteristics, these individual components amalgamate into a singular internal space. 

The proposed astronaut training facility prepares astronauts for Martian colonizations and comprises of a number of passive simulations spaces located on a vertical steel structure. Four astronauts live within the structure for a period of one month, during this time they are required to extract information from different zones around the external area of the building whilst travelling across the facade astronauts pass through a number of Martian environmental simulation spaces.

Terra Incognita 2019