BIG and NASA collaborate to design 3D-printed buildings for the Moon


BIG and 3D-printed manufacturing company ICON have revealed that they are working on Project Olympus, which aims to develop robot manufacturing for the Moon.

The architecture firm and SEArch + (Space Exploration Architecture) were listed for the project by ICON, as it received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), fueled government contract with funding from NASA.

Called Project Olympus, it aims to develop a way to create a 3D printed infrastructure for living on the Moon that uses materials found on its surface.

Project Olympus by BIG, ICON and SEArch +
Project Olympus aims to locate the building on the moon

“With the icon, we’re leading the new frontiers – both physically, technically and environmentally,” said BIG founder Barke Ingels.

“To explain the power of architecture, ‘formgiving’ is the Danish word for design, which literally means giving form that has not yet been given shape,” Ingalls added.

“It becomes fundamentally obvious when we venture beyond the earth and begin to imagine how we are to build and live on an entirely new world.”

Working with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the team will use a simulant of lunar soil to investigate 3D-printable construction.

Project Olympus by BIG, ICON and SEArch +
Structures will be created using robots

While other projects have suggested influx or metal structures, Project Olympus aims to create a strong eco-friendly construction on the Moon. The team said that 3D printing and using local materials would make it more durable and reduce waste.

“We have explored various building forms optimized for protection from atmospheric pressure and cosmic and solar radiation.”

“The habitat will be designed with built-in redundancy required for outdoor buildings, while groundbreaking robot construction is also used that uses only-in-situ resources with zero waste left behind.”

As time goes on, Project Olympus could also set a more sustainable example for building on Earth, according to the team.

“3D printing with indigenous materials is a sustainable and versatile solution to off-world construction that will prove to be important for our future in Earth and outer space,” said Seerch +.

“Developed for the construction of supernatural buildings with technologies and efficiency parameters, Project Olympus will also help us continuously build on planet Earth as we strive to reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment,” BIG partner Martin Volekle said.

Project Olympus by BIG, ICON and SEArch +
The team is working with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville

ICON receives government grant for off-Earth exploration after working to develop more sustainable construction using 3De-printing robotics, software and advanced materials. In 2018, it completed its first assignment 3D-printed homes in the US and recently in Mexico have begun construction on “the world’s first 3D-printed community homes”.

It selected BIG, which has previously designed a simulation of Mars called Mars Science City in Dubai, and SEArch + for Project Olympus.

“Building humanity’s first home on another world will be the most ambitious construction project in human history and will take science, engineering, technology and architecture to literally new heights,” said ICON co-founder Jason Ballard.

The project is part of NASA’s commitment to discover life on the moon, including the Artemis program to place the first woman and the next man on the celestial body in 2024. Earlier this year, NASA named Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Alabama. Dianetics as three teams to develop vehicles for planned landings.

The space agency also ran the 3D-printed Habitat Challenge, with architects and designers tasked with envisioning 3D-printed homes for deep space.

Many architecture firms are also looking at building on the moon.

Last year, SOM revealed that it, together with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), designed Moon Moon Village as “the first permanent human settlement on the lunar surface”.

In 2017, the British firm Foster + Partners unveiled a proposal for 3D print buildings on the celestial body. More recently, a collection of projects envisioned life on the moon for the Montopia competition.