As part of scientific work for a competition organized by the Mars Society, an American non-profit dedicated to exploring the Red Planet, architecture firm Abiboo has unveiled design concepts for a sustainable city on Mars. The project, called Nüwa, ranked as a finalist among 175 projects submitted from around the world for the 2020 competition.

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A bird's-eye view of a crater surrounded on one side by solar panel-like structures.

Abiboo presented the Nüwa proposal at the Mars Society convention in October, which was attended by Elon Musk from Space X, George Whitesides from Virgin Galactic and Jim Bridenstine from NASA. Working remotely from several global destinations, Abiboo collaborated with the SONet network on the project. This network includes an international team of scientists headed by astrophysicist Guillem Anglada and experts in astrophysics, architecture, astrobiology, space engineering, astrogeology, psychology and chemistry.

Related: NASA Mars Habitat Challenge winner is a 3D-printed pod made of biodegradable materials

Two astronauts gazing upon a mountainous landscape that glitters with lights.

To address the unique and harsh atmospheric conditions, the design features a vertical concept built into the side of a cliff. There are five cities, each accommodating between 200,000 and 250,000 inhabitants. Each city, apart from the capital city of Nüwa, follows the same urban strategy to make it flexible enough to apply to multiple surface areas on the planet.

A bird's-eye view of lights, buildings and a bridge with tunnel.

Modular, tubular “macro-buildings” are inserted into the cliffs through tunneling, linked together by a 3D network of tunnels and designed to include both residential and work spaces. The infrastructure also connects to “sky lobbies” designed with translucent skin and large overflying canopies that provide views of the Martian landscape and protection from external radiation. These canopies are constructed out of material recovered from the cliff’s tunneling excavation.

A bird's-eye view of lights, buildings and a bridge with tunnel on a rocky landscape.

Each module measures 10 meters by 60 meters and includes two floors with green areas, urban gardens, art spaces and condensation areas that help dissipate heat and clean air. The community green spaces include animals and bodies of water to promote physical and mental well-being, one type dedicated to experimental vegetation and another type acting solely as a recreational park.

+ Abiboo

Images via ABIBOO Studio / SONet (Gonzalo Rojas & Sebastián Rodriguez)