Assuming we get there soon, what would life in a Mars colony look like? German firm ZA Architects' latest project explores the concept of establishing an underground colony on the red planet. The plan calls for robots to be sent to Mars to analyze its surface and choose the correct place for drilling. After identifying the strength of various basalt deposits, the robots would then drill into the rock, excavating a giant cavern with large skylights, supported by enormous basalt columns.
After the cavern is created, humans would then, to quote the architects, "rush to Mars" to finish construction and put technical facilities for water, oxygen, and basalt processing in place. The robots would then concern themselves with weaving a "spatial spider-like web" that functions as a stairway and second floor with space for technical facilities. "Curiosity sooner or later will bring human[s] to Mars and wouldn't it be nice to have permanent station to explore it?" Arina Ageeva of ZA Architects tells Dezeen.
Definitely more art than science
It's an extremely far-fetched plan. First, the cost would be astronomical — basalt is a tough material to excavate, requiring especially strong drills. Second, depending on how quickly it cools, basalt can also be very porous — a big problem in an alien atmosphere — and there's no mention of how the robots will assess it's suitability to keep toxic gases at bay. Third, the skylights, which appear to have very few fail-safes in place, are an obvious weak point — should one fail, it would surely lead to the death of the Mars base's inhabitants. So ZA Architects' plan is definitely conceptual, and not particularly grounded in science, but that doesn't stop it from being a beautiful vision of an off-world colony.