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Architects love a challenge. While some busy themselves constructing skyscrapers or designing barn conversions, others devote their time to more... theoretical projects. 

Every so often an architectural publication will hold a design competition that really challenges readers to think outside the box with their work. One contest might be to design a zombie proof shelter, while another could revolve around living at the bottom of the ocean. 

In the case of Eleven's 'Moontopia!' competition, the goal was to design a "self sufficient lunar colony designed for living, working, researching and – why not – a little space tourism too…"

We at Plentific love showing off the sheer amount of creativity and ingenuity that can go into architectural design. Along with the winner and runner up of this incredible competition, here are some of our favourite entries!


Winner: Lunar Test Lab (Monika Lipinska, Laura Nadine Olivier, Inci Lize Ogun)

The winning entry is based on an interesting concept. While the base would be capable of sustaining both human and plant life, you might have noticed that it seems rather small. This is because rather than being designed as an ‘entire’ base, so to speak, Test Lab was envisioned as more of a beach head for lunar exploration. 

Using a method of self-assembly powered by 3D printing, the base is designed to increase in size over time, covering more ground and helping to colonise the Moon in an almost biological fashion. In essence, Lunar Test Lab would be the seed from which lunar colonisation would grow.

Another interesting aspect of Test Lab is the design of its outer membrane. According to the design documents, the membrane would be made up or programmed carbon fibres and would be able to reshape itself after sensing incoming solar winds.

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Runner up: Momentum Virium in L1 (Sergio Bianchi, Jonghak Kim, Simone Fracasso, Alejandro Jorge Velazco Ramirez)

This runner up entry looks like something right out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is based on the idea that actually setting up a colony on the Moon “would require substantial amount of drastic changes which are time consuming, inefficient and therefore irrational.” 

Instead, ‘Momentum Virium’ is designed to orbit around the Moon, with a space elevator attached to its surface. Designed to generate power “using the most efficient solar energy cell ever created”, Momentum Virium would allow mankind to colonise the Moon and extract its resources without ruining the beauty of our neighbour in the night sky.

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Looking through the Moon (Yiling Chu, Yao Ding, Yan-Fei Jiang, Hui Tian)

This entry is a great example of architecture that makes as much use as possible of an area’s landscape. The Moon is littered with craters which, according to the designers of the ‘Moon eye’, can offer natural shelter and protection for lunar migrants. They even point out that the craters on the Moon’s south pole would be ideal, as not only do they experience only “small temperature fluctuations”, but some are even believed to contain water.

The parabolic dome over these crater-cities has a number of purposes. For one, they can serve as gigantic telescopes, allowing us to see the universe without any interference from Earth’s atmosphere. They can also (and this is where things started sounding a bit far fetched for us) fire laser beams to protect the craters from the asteroids that continually pound the Moon’s surface.

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Platinum City (Sean Thomas Allen)

If you, like us, enjoy imagining beautiful space age cities being built on the Moon, the ‘Platinum City’ might well become your favourite entrant for the competition!

This “magnificent” city would, in theory, be built during the “advent of the first post-human industry of asteroid mining”. It is “fathomed as a giant computer”, permanently tethered to the (non-existent) Rosetta Asteroid, which would luckily be rich in Platinum.

What’s so marvellous about the Platinum City is, well, everything. It’s exactly the kind of thing we picture when we think of space travel and colonising other worlds: a huge and beautiful city dominating the spheres of research, resource extraction and “lunar spa breaks”.

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Upside Down (Ryan Tung Wai Yin, Ho Wing Tsit Teresina, Joshua Ho)

Now, arguably, any plausible plan to colonise the Moon constitutes good forward thinking, but this ‘Upside Down’ design takes it to a new level. The idea follows a number of stages, starting with the initial settlement of research teams and continuing for several decades and ultimately resulting in the construction of gigantic rotating torus which could, in theory, accommodate millions of lunar migrants.
Despite the sheer scale and marvel of this structure, what’s really interesting about this idea is that the architects plan for it to become outdated. The real purpose of colonising the Moon in this case is to learn as much as possible and eventually move on to the real goal: Mars. 

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