At present, walls – both for her Mars habitat and her award-winning ranch-style home in Austin, Texas – are constructed from extruded concrete, which lends all surfaces a soft, pliant, thermal mass weighting that reduces heat transfer. But in the long term, on the Moon and Mars particularly, local materials will be mined, milled and combined to create the base materials needed by 3D robotic printers to engineer her fabled habitats.
‘This,’ Yashar tells me, ‘will really enable us to maximise our payload capabilities for the things that are most critical for the mission. ‘And then by using materials from the land, and living off the land, we’ll be able to create a wide range of structures that we would never have been able to accomplish using traditional construction methods.’
You can tell from the way she speaks that she has thought about this a lot. An architect by training, with a master’s in architecture from Columbia University, she is also a designer and technologist. Before all of this, she studied Industrial Design at the Art Center College of Design and Rhetoric at University of California, Berkeley. So when she calls herself a space architect, she isn’t joking. Nor, indeed, are the growing number of scientists, technologists, AI researchers (another of her specialisms) who use this title to describe the breadth, depth and sheer imaginative and aesthetic leaps she takes in her work, which I think is the secret to the success, strange familiarity and harmonious calm of her designs.
And it is all intentional, as she explains. ‘I’m a designer who employs an evidence-based process – so it’s really data and science that drive my initial design explorations. But I also believe that there is so much potential to explore formal ideas, and to create structures that are designed to calm us, inspire a sense of wellbeing, ground us…’ It’s the reason that she thinks technology, space habitation and wellbeing need to be considered hand in hand.
‘After all, we are going to be in deep space, on unfamiliar planets, away from any sense of human scale, so these habitats really need to provide us with holistic solutions, as well as places to facilitate scientific advancement.’