The celestial frontier
With the age of discovery in the 15th century, mankind’s view of the known world was changed forever. Nations and private entities scrambled to attain a foothold in this emerging frontier, bringing with them new technologies, cultures, economies, societies and architecture. In the late 19th century, numerous experimental communities planted their flags on American soil, often with utopian visions for their new way of life. Due to social rifts, economic collapse, or unforeseen outside events, nearly all failed. However, these settlements became a testament to what human ingenuity could achieve with only ambition and a blank slate on the other side of a daunting voyage. This same opportunistic spirit still exists today in the imaginations of futurists, architects, and science-fiction writers but in this period, the new frontier is Mars. Human voyages to other planets are inevitable, and the movement of doing so is not unlike the establishment of colonial settlements in the early Americas. Missions to Mars will need a human touch and the settlements to follow will bring with them unforeseen problems for architects. The fate of extraterrestrial colonization is impossible to explicitly predict, therefore, speculation and learning from historical narratives it vital. By using architecture to speculate on plausible futures, we as architects can help predict and solve what it would take not only to survive but endure.