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Competition: ‘Moontopia’ lunar colony

An open international ideas and design competition has been launched for ‘Moontopia’ – a self-sufficient lunar colony (Deadline: 11 November)

Open to architects, designers and academics, the competition seeks ‘innovative’ ideas for a self-sufficient community of humans on the Moon.

Supported by the Buckminster Fuller Institute – the project aims to explore the potential for space tourism and boost scientific understanding of extraterrestrial habitation.

The Moon

The Moon

Lunar habitation concept by Foster + Partners

According to the brief: ‘Half a century after the lunar landings attention is moving back to the Moon. This time, however, we are tired of just walking… what we want is to inhabit.

‘We ask you to design innovative solutions for MOONTOPIA – the first ever self-sufficient Lunar base or colony designed for living, working, researching and – why not – a little space tourism too. How will mankind exist on the Moon? You decide.’

Scientists think the Moon possesses basic materials with the potential for human habitation, such as oxygen, iron and aluminium.

Apollo 8

Apollo 8

Source: Image by NASA Bill Anders


Between 1969 and 1972, beginning with the landmark Apollo 11 mission, 12 people walked on the Moon and after more than 40 years’ absence, it is thought mankind’s return is long overdue.

Space architecture is now a growing sector and widely expected to boom in the coming century. Three years ago Foster + Partners developed plans for the European Space Agency for a multi-domed Moon base constructed from 3D-printed lunar soil.

Participants are free to define their colony’s function, size and phasing but must harness scientific knowhow to guarantee a self-sufficient community.

Proposals must consider the potential difficulty of sourcing, manufacturing and transporting construction materials on the lunar surface. Schemes which harness modularity, flexibility and compatibility with existing space module systems are also encouraged.

Submissions to the competition, organised by Eleven Magazine, must feature two A1-sized display boards together with a 500-word explanation and an optional concept model.

The winning team – set to be announced on 11 January – will take home a £2,000 top prize and a second place team will receive £400. An additional winner chosen by public vote will also be awarded £100.

How to apply


The deadline for submissions is 11 November


Standard registration from 1 September to 31 October: £80
Late bloomer registration from 1 November to 11 November: £100

Contact details

Building 6000
Langstone Technology Park
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 23 9283 1247

Visit the competition website for more information

Lunar base by Foster + Partners

Lunar Habitation case study: Q&A with Foster + Partners

The London studio discusses designing conceptual lunar housing for the European Space Agency

How will your lunar habitation project deliver a comfortable environment for human life on the Moon?

There are several factors that influence human comfort – for instance, it may be natural daylight, a feeling of safety and privacy, fresh air, the sounds of outdoors, or even familiar and tactile materials. All these aspects have typically been neglected – due to the limitations of engineering and the sheer complexity of getting humans to space and back – in the relatively short-haul space flights to the Moon and space-station missions to date. Moving into the future we need to learn how to imbibe these aspects of comfort in the design of future extra-terrestrial shelters and spacecraft, so that long-term Space missions can become a viable proposition.

The Moon

The Moon

Lunar habitation concept by Foster + Partners

What issues are important when designing self-sufficient structures for the lunar surface?

Utilising in-situ resources is key. As the composition of the moon becomes clearer through research, we are beginning to realise that the raw materials for oxygen, water, fuel, metal alloys, as well as for building structures may already be there. Currently, there are numerous research projects exploring the possibilities of large-scale additive construction, which means it might be possible in the future to 3D-print certain structures from surface regolith found on the Moon.

How large could a moon colony grow and what important infrastructure might be needed?

The sky’s the limit! However, the natural environment of the Moon is inhospitable for human life, and so lunar habitations may be most useful as a stepping stone for similar colonies on Mars and beyond, developing key technologies and habitat designs, and mining resources. In this sense, future lunar infrastructure may be created by, and primarily for, unmanned robots rather than humans; leaving us free to explore further worlds.

The Moon

The Moon

Lunar habitation concept by Foster + Partners