Buildings of the Future: Air Structures in Space?
What were you thinking the first time you saw an air dome? Maybe it looked like a building from the future, or from another planet? It’s no doubt that there are fewer construction methods as futuristic-looking as air domes.
The enormous size, the rounded shape, and the counterintuitive amount of clear span space are enough to awe anyone. The fact that the ceiling is kept up by air alone is a marvel of engineering. While they do seem futuristic, air domes are a very real, and incredible, technology.
We’re nearly at 2020 though, and while domes are a building of the present, here are some really cool buildings of the future:
3D Printed Homes
This might be a long way off from being practical, but that doesn’t mean being able to 3D print buildings isn’t still cool!
3D printing as an idea has been around for decades, but it’s only recently that 3D printers have started to make their way into people’s homes. The scope of 3D printing in the home is limited to little things made out of plastic, but what if you could use the same principles but on a larger scale?
Well, it might not be as sci-fi as you think.
House printers use the same concept of a desktop 3D printer—a construction material is carefully extruded out one end into the shape of whatever the design is. The item takes shape one layer at a time. While typical consumer sized printers typically use plastic, a house printer squirts out quick drying concrete. This printer was even able to build a house in 24 hours.
Building in Space
Mars has been getting a lot of attention, and for good reason. After all, what could be more exciting than actually sending people from this planet all the way to another. The idea itself seems out of the realm of possibility, but space exploration bodies like NASA are getting closer and closer.
One of the most important challenges to overcome is, “where will the first Mars explorers live?” Without an answer to this, we’d be dooming anyone that we send there.Well, some of the smartest people in the world are working on this problem, and some of the construction solutions are impressive, to say the least.
One of the most interesting ideas to us involves a technology we know a lot about already: inflatable structures.
Think about it; you could create large indoor spaces using fewer materials that are lighter in weight. And if the air structure is designed and built carefully, the structures would be able to withstand the winds and storms that occur on the surface of Mars.
While the inflatable structures wouldn’t be exactly the same as those used on Earth, the principles are the same. The things we’ve learnt here on Earth would be directly applicable for creating these space structures!
Of course, these buildings are something for the future and it’s all up in the air whether they become a widespread thing. It is fun to daydream about what’s going to come next, though.