IED Innovation Lab designs a habitat for Mars, which receives an award for the best HP Mars Home Planet project

At some point in the not-too-distant future, a million humans will live on the planet Mars. The mission of the HP Mars Home Planet competition, in partnership with NASA, is to find the best proposals to facilitate the habitability of Mars: a new home for the pioneers in colonising the planet.

The IED Innovation Lab of IED Madrid has designed the future and has been declared the best university project, as well winning the first prize in the category of Interior Design, from among hundreds of proposals from design and architect studios from around the world. 

The project, named Algi, was developed by a team of students of Product & Interior Design (Christina Schwertschlag, Eduardo Fernandez, Isabel Alvear, Charlotte Smulders, Aman Agrawal, Lucia de Ancos and Andrés Espinosa) and was directed by the architect Manuel Monteserín in the VRLab (Virtual Reality Lab) of the IIL. They will soon all be visiting NASA thanks to this global programme.


What does the project consist of?

The presented project is called Algi: this is how the first city on Mars will be named, a collaborative society protected by a biological membrane containing algae and water. Algi aims to be a city without waste by implementing a high level of citizen participation, a responsible community that coexists with the environment, without disconnecting from Earth since part of its objectives are to help recycle material from earth that will be used in the new colony: plastic from Earth is taken to Mars to be recycled and used as filament for the 3D printing of structures.

Algi may serve as a testing ground for innovation, whose city model and advances may be passed back to earth, thus creating a symbiotic interplanetary relationship.

IIL based the design of the membrane, an essential part of the project, on the tent and membrane designs of the visionary architects Frei Otto and Buckminster-Fuller, and also on the biological structure of fish such as sole, which leverage  the power of the waves to stay closer to the sandy bottom of the sea. Accordingly, the outer cover of the project has an aerodynamic shape that makes use of the strong winds on Mars in order to anchor it to the ground and strengthen stability, as well as to transform these currents into clean energy that supplies the settlement.


“We are really happy that our project has won the prize. We believe that addressing a future community on Mars speaks about the current problems on our planet, such as sustainability, recycling, mobility, colonialism, emerging urban technologies etc. At IED Innovation Lab we understand that design stands as one of the best tools for responding to these urgent issues.”
Nacho Martín, Director of IED Innovation Lab



What is IIL?

IED Innovation Lab is a “design playground for transformation projects” created by IED Madrid. It provides a new type of design experience and a set of new tools for companies, local residents, public institutions and students to work together on their own transformation projects. At IED Innovation Lab we imagine, question, research, explore, experiment, educate and prototype. We are here to transform design as a discipline.

The IIL operates around the areas of Technology, Environment, Service Design and Business with multidisciplinary professional laboratories (FabLab, VRLab, Media Lab, City Lab, Future Food Lab and Business Lab).