Isotropic planning for resilience and equality, a distributed network of Martian archipelagos.

or How to make civic space in a world that has no Breathable Commons

“For those who, like ourselves, are convinced that architecture is one of the few ways to realise cosmic order on earth, to put things according to reason, it is a “moderate utopia” to imagine a near future in which all architecture will be created with a single act, from a single design capable of clarifying once and for all the motives which have induced man to build dolmens, menhirs, pyramids, and lastly to trace (ultimate ration) a white line in the desert.”

Superstudio: The Continuous Monument (1969)

image composite sources: Gale Crater by Opportunity Rover, Astronaut Medics by Pat Rawling and grid by author (after Superstudio)

“…perhaps one could imagine that ‘space is hard’ in another sense of the word, a kind of solid poché - an inversion of figure and ground in which humans carve out a cozy hollow softness within that ‘hard’ space.”

Space Settlements, Fred Scharmen

In the figure-ground map of a utopian enclave built of individual dwellings surrounded by uninhabitable wilderness on an inhospitable planet, the black poché of a Nolli 1) plan is inverted and seeps into the city, suppressing movement and preventing the formation of shared civic space. If left unchecked this inversion risks denying a future Martian Civitas from their rights to the res communis - the commons that must exist in every city to provide freedom of action and resilience to tyranny.

This proposal for a new city-state on the surface of a planet named after the Roman god of war looks to the history of Terran urban design, city planning and speculative fiction to expose the dystopia within the utopia 2). It considers how isotropic planning and a distributed network between polycentric archipelagos of inhabitation could respond to the question: How do we make civic space in a world that has no Breathable Commons?

Furthermore, it considers how to prevent the inevitably dystopian outcome that will be created when the dreams, desires and emancipatory politics of the many - a million strong NewSpacer Civitas - could be extinguished by the few in control of the air supply. How might the resources required to form a new city-state be accessed fairly through an architecture and infrastructure that aims to foster equality and avoid the tragedy of the unregulated commons?

“There was to be no controlling centre, no capital, no establishment for the self-perpetuating machinery of bureaucracy and the dominance-drive of individuals seeking to become captains, bosses, Chiefs of State.”

The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin

Phase 1_ uncrewed landers with automated construction vehicles deployed across triangular grid prepare landing sites… 1000 locations, launched in groups of 3 states/companies/NGOS/syndicates… aerobrake and parachute landings across grid then adjusted to suit spacing required for later phases… diggers and regolith sintering to form launch pads to avoid ejecta from coming rocket boosters in Phase 2… early delivery of supplies and KiloPower units

Phase 2_ The first 100 (x3) land at each of prepared landing sites. Inhabitants live in spent rocket converted ‘wet lab’ and small dwellings built around 0.5 ha pad…. Upper stage remains as ascent vehicle for emergencies…

3 zones per community to be developed:

0.5 ha landing pad area to be covered with dome using rocket structure for support - future shared space 1 ha future permanent living space for dwellings (see density calcs) … combination of standardised regolith hexagon bricks and inflatable fabric… 300 person target + visitors per community 2 ha agricultural space - buried tunnels… domed areas - capacity for 300+ people consumption needs

Circulation space between 3 zones covered and pressurized to form common space for each community

Phase 3_ 1000 person archipelago completed by formation of common space between each community… resilience formed by agreement by 3 stakeholders to feed and pressurize common space… further inhabitants arrive from earth to target 900-1000 per island

Phase 4_ Creation of covered commons between 1000 polycentric archipelagos laid out as distributed network across original grid… movement and shelter accessible to all with no control from single actor and interdependencies baked in

Phase 5_ Terraforming the commons…

See map of Rome by Giambattista Nolli
“Every utopia contains a dystopia, every dystopia contains a utopia.” - No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, Ursula K. Le Guin
  • research/martian_archipelagos.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/08/16 22:38
  • by rob