Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date



O'More College of Architecture and Design


Interior Design

BURS Faculty Advisor

Finis Eliot

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


The last half-century has produced scientific knowledge and technological advancements propelling humankind into the Golden Age of space exploration and travel. With the global gaze upon space, many are looking beyond the moon to the colonization of Mars. Once considered science fiction, hypothetical questions of human habitability in extra-terrestrial environments are becoming more of a scientific reality – and necessity - for the future of humanity.

Humans have successfully lived aboard Skylab and the International Space Station for long-duration space missions since the mid-Twentieth Century. The interior living and working quarters of these environments have long been engineered to create shelter from the extreme conditions of outer space and provide functionality for task flow and systems control. Though, as first-hand accounts from astronauts suggest, these confined quarters and lack of privacy often lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and frustration in a place thousand (and soon-to-be millions) of miles from home on planet Earth (Scott-Connor, et. al, 2014).

Thus, the question must be asked: if there are to be human colonies on Mars, how can interior designers work within aeronautical science to design extra-terrestrial habitats that elevate quality of life and lift the human spirit? How do we create environments that go beyond survival to embrace life?

First researching ecological engineers to understand why species build (Jones, Lawton, and Shachak), then analyzing case studies of human habitats in isolated and extreme environments (Bishop and Hauplik-Meusburger, 2021) our class then took a field trip to the US Space and Rocket Center to tour a mocked Martian habitat. Students talked with aeronautic professionals about challenges and opportunities in space, and the day-to-day needs of a team of astronauts on a space mission.

By roleplaying as astronauts in a teams-based design studio collaboration, our resulting research and design project offered theoretical solutions for extra-terrestrial habitats designed for the behavioral, psychological, social and spiritual needs of humans.