The Mars One organization, founded by Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders, publicly announced in May 2012, a one-way trip to Mars, with the intention of an initial robotic precursor mission in 2020 and transporting the first human colonists to Mars in 2024. Mars is the only planet we know of that can feasibly support human life and will be humankind’s first step to become a multiplanetary species. Before carefully selected and trained crews will depart to Mars, several unmanned missions will be completed, establishing a habitable settlement waiting for the first astronauts to arrive. The Mars One crews will go to Mars not to simply visit, but to live, explore, and create a second home for humanity. The first men and women to go to Mars are going there to survive and reproduce. For further information on Mars One project, please visit http://www.mars-one.com/


In this two-week workshop, your mission is to design a biomimetic structural organism that will function as a habitat for the first colonizers on Mars. This will obviously be different from a typical structure on Earth, not only one that can withstand Mars’s conditions, but a stand-alone organism that may grow, move freely, reproduce and/or exterminate itself. The habitable space(s) should be formed in accordance with the geographical and climatological conditions of Mars, which are quite different from those of Earth. In this context, modes and durations of basic human needs such as eating and sleeping as well as social needs should be re-thought and spaces should be designed accordingly.


During the workshop, you will work in groups of six to seven and share the workload of various tasks such as research, sketching, technical drawing, digital modelling and model making. The workshop will start with a biomimetic process. After an introduction to biomimicry in architecture, each group will be assigned a plant or an animal that lives on Earth. Your first task is to research and analyze your particular plant or animal. Then, you are asked to design a unique organism that does not simply resemble it but mimic and interpret its structural formation. You should present your design idea by sketches, diagrams, sketch and development models, etc. In the following stages, you are asked to make digital parametric models of your design by using specific software, Rhino, Grasshopper and special plug-ins as well as produce physical models in laser cutting and 3D printing techniques.


  • To develop visionary ideas about architectural formations in extraterrestrial environments
  • To improve digital drawing and modelling skills
  • To introduce biomimicry as a method of architectural design in understanding complex relations between form and structure

Ethical Concern

Please ensure that this workshop does not simply promote human colonization in outer space. Considering the ecological damages created on Earth by the mankind, you may be completely against such an attempt. In light of current trends of space making, we primarily aim to satisfy the objectives of architectural design pedagogy indicated above.


14 February Tuesday …. Introduction to Workshop, Presentation on Biomimicry, Start Group Tasks: Research & Preliminary Sketches, Site Model Making, Digital Computation and Representation, HW: Finish Group Tasks

17 February Friday …….. Presentation by Prof. Dr. Serdar Bayari: “Geology, Geography and Climate of Mars. An Introduction”, Presentation by Müge Halıcı on Digital Modelling, Sketch Model Making & Preliminary Digital Models, HW: Development Model & Digital Drawings

21 February Tuesday …. Design Review, HW: Revise Development Model & Digital Drawings

24 February Friday ……. Start 3D-printed Model & Presentation Drawings

27 February Monday ….. Submission and Installation of the Exhibition

28 February Tuesday …. Opening of the Exhibition


A project site on Mars would definitely be different from a plot on Earth in terms of scale and geographical and climatological context. However, multiple satellite images show us various terrestrial landforms on Mars similar to those on Earth. The Martian landscape abounds also with numerous impact craters that reveal a more Moon-like scenery in most of the planet. Overall, the most remarkable geographic features are extremely high volcanoes and deep valleys along with flat areas open to strong wind storms. Since the tilt of axis in Earth and Mars is similar, the spatio-temporal variation of annual insolation is also similar whereas a Martian year is about two times of the Earth year (i.e. 687 earth days). Nitrogen, oxygen, argon and others make the atmosphere in Earth while the Martian atmosphere comprises mainly of carbon-dioxide and water vapor. As a consequence of thin and computationally different atmosphere in Mars, the climate differs substantially from the Earth. For instance, the mean Earth/Mars temperartures are +13.9 ºC/ -62.8 ºC. Seasonal changes of the carbon dioxide ice caps at the poles, the dust storms and the exchange of water vapor between the surface and the atmosphere are the main drivers of Martian climate. The gravity on Mars is about 0.375 that of Earth. Thus, -compared to Earth- just a little energy gradient in Martian atmosphere is needed to generate a dust storm. Such storms occur mostly during spring and summer in the southern hemi-sphere. However, they can grow to cover the whole planet.

In this workshop, each group is given a site of 2 x 2 km from the 3D map at the website http://mars.nasa.gov/maps/explore-mars-map/fullscreen/ and make a 1/5000 topographical model of that site within the boundaries of which your structural organism will emerge, extend and move.


A selection of images showing terrestrail landforms on Mars surface (Left: Pathfinder on Mars, 1997; Middle: Gullies in Sirenum Terra, 2006; Right: Gale Crater: Future Home of Mars Rover Curiosity, 2011; Source: https://images.nasa.gov/#/)


On 27 February Monday @19:00, you are required to submit the following products:

  • 1/5000 Site Model of 40 x 40 cm. showing your organism on site (the actual design should be 3D-printed and the site should be produced as a topograpical map made out of 2 mm layers of grey cardboard).
  • 1/500 Partial Model showing a living unit, module or cell.
  • Digital V-ray rendered images showing your organism, its relation to the surrounding context from various angles
  • Series of diagrams and sketches showing the transformation of the organism
  • Upload your digital model to Skecthfab and provide the link on the presentation board.
  • Google cardboard or 3D V-ray box glasses

** All the drawings, sketches, diagrams, images and glasses should be presented on a single board in 50 x 100 cm size as well as be uploaded on the workshop webpage: https://missionmars2024.wordpress.com