Neurosynthesis - Mars city design

Area 968,000 m²
Year 2016
Location Mars, Solar System, Orion Arm
Type Competition
Status Completed


Mars is not just a scientific curiosity; it is a resource-rich world with a surface area equal to all the continents of Earth combined. Among all extra-terrestrial bodies in our solar system, Mars is singular in that it possesses all the raw materials required to support not only life but also a new branch of human civilisation. 

Many people believe that a human mission to Mars is a venture for the far future, a task for ‘the next generation.’ Such a point of view has no basis in fact. On the contrary, the US has in hand, today, all the technologies required for undertaking an aggressive, continuing programme of human Mars exploration, with the ?rst piloted mission reaching the Red Planet within a decade. 

In this design thesis project, I aim to establish an architectural design approach to facilitate my proposal of harbouring life successfully on the red planet, using technologies that exist today on earth. This attempts to remove the manned Mars mission from the realm of mega-fantasy and reduces it to practice as a task of comparable di?culty to that faced in launching the Apollo missions to the Moon. Choosing a site on Mars was particularly a challenging task as the whole planet is deserted. A place which potentially would be favourable against others had to be decided. Here, I measured the favourable conditions referencing to what we have on Earth, for example, Zones which are river basins always tend to have more fertile lands and potentially more favourable for life. Coming back to Mars, There is a huge valley in the central region of its surface stretching about 2000 miles across the planet. Its formation is unknown but scientists have found seasonal flowing water near its basin. It is also assumed that millions of years ago, Mars’ had water on its surface, and it flowed within that valley making its basins look identical to what we have on Earth. Hence choosing a place which shows signs of activity on the planet seemed to me as a good starting point. 

The surface of Mars has craters, irregular in shape and size, due to the number of asteroid hits it receives. This texture appeared to me as an intelligent arrangement of nodes and connections similar to those in the nervous system. Images and sketches below show initial developmental sketches of my neurological vision of the site. 


Mars is the New World and someday millions of people will live there. What language will they speak? What values and traditions will they cherish, to spread from there as humanity continues to move out into the solar system and beyond? When they look back on our time, will any of our other actions compare in value to what we do today to bring their society into being? We now have the opportunity to be the founders, the parents and shapers of a new and dynamic branch of the human family, and by so doing put our stamp on the future. It is a privilege not to be disdained lightly.

Landscape Precedent: The Grand  Canyon Desert
Exploring the geology of the grand canyon desert which resembles its formation the valley on Mars, where water flows freely within the harsh environment. I discovered that perhaps landscape could be developed on the outer periphery. Also, water would be protected by the walls making if convenient for the city to access it in all the parts. 

Due to the low temperatures and the constant risk of deep space and UV exposure on Mars, there is an absolute need for the city to be completely protected all these environmental factors. Therefore a need to design an atmospheric barrier was needed. Researching further into the neurological design of the urban city, I found interesting connections of it similar to what we have in the human brain model and its protective skull membrane.
Using biomimicry, the design of the outer structures was then modelled on biological entities and processes of the human brain. External envelope was designed to protect the Martians from harmful cosmic and UV rays. Graphene transparent membrane is incorporated between the openings so as harness solar energy which is an important requirement on a deserted place like Mars which also protects from possible deep-space radiation.






The central challenge to building a city in space is to create a closed system that can sustain itself for the long haul. Urban areas on Earth survive only by relying on a much larger footprint than their metropolitan boundaries. The more Isolated a space city is - the farther from external resupply resources - the more closed its oxygen, food and water loops must be. Our longer-term capacity to thrive in Space depends not only on the initial construction of closed living quarters but also on how the infrastructures of life are propagated throughout interplanetary and cosmic space. In other words, architecture must be concerned not just with sealed habitats and closed ecosystems, but also with the processes of ‘ecopoiesis’ – the transformation of barren, non-dynamic planetary surfaces such as Mars into primitive elemental cycles that generate planetary-scale systems of exchange. To simplify the complexity of the urban plan, I divided the city into nodes and connections, where individual nodes would become the primordial structures and the connections would become the paths leading to them respectively.

Unless we can design sustainable environments that do not just focus on resource conservation but promote life, our chances of supporting interplanetary colonies are extremely slim, and there is currently insuf?cient attention being paid to its importance. City walls or a complete atmospheric barrier would also be required to shield Martian citizens from the brutal radiation bombardments of the deep space.



I consider our species, not as a separate entity, but as a part of nature's ginormous presence in the universe.


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John L Allen and Anthony Blake, Biosphere 2: The Human Experiment, Viking (New York), 1991.Neil Leach, AD Space Architecture, Volume 84, Issue 6, 2014.

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Landis, Geoffrey A. (2009). "Meteoritic steel as a construction resource on Mars". Acta Astronautica. 64 (2-3): 183.

Rachel Armstrong and Neil Spiller, Protocell Architecture, March, 2011.

Robert Zubrin with Richard Wagner, The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must, Free Press (New York), 2nd ed., 2011.

Regis, Ed (Sept, 2015) "Let's Not Move To Mars", New York Times.

Robert Zubrin, The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must, Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 1996

Aldrin, Buzz (13 June 2013). "The Call of Mars". New York Times. Accessed on 10 th April 2016. 

Brigid Hains, Interviewing Elon Musk (30 September 2014). Accessed on 28th July 2016.

Bruno Latour, 'Once Out of Nature: Natural Religion as a Pleonasm', Gifford Lecture Series, University of Edinburgh, 2013. Accessed on 7th March 2016

"Can Life exist on Mars?" Mars Academy, Oracle - Think Quest, Accessed on 10th April 2016.

Leonard M. Weinstein, Space Colonization Using Space-Elevators from Phobos, Accessed on 15th April 2016.

Martian facts and figures, Nasa Official records. Accessed on 15th May 2016

"A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover", Report of the President's Commission on Implementation of US Space Exploration Policy, 2004. Accessed on 10th June 2016


Shreya Kochatta

Architectural Assistant

Aatmik Muchhal