Xavier De Kestelier:
Designing buildings for Mars and the moon

This week on the SpaceCraft podcast, Dan Moscrop interviews Xavier De Kestelier, an architect specializing in designing structures for space exploration and habitats on the Moon and Mars.

Xavier shares how his interest in space began at a young age when he visited an exhibition about space exploration. He became fascinated with drawing detailed sections of spaceships and wanted to become a space engineer, but eventually pursued a career in architecture.

They discuss the challenges of building on the Moon and Mars, such as the lack of atmospheric protection from radiation. Xavier suggests that the best approach would be to create 3D-printed caves or shell structures for living underneath, providing protection from radiation through innovative architectural design.

Xavier emphasizes the importance of design in space habitats, drawing inspiration from architecture and interior design rather than the sterile environments often depicted in science fiction. He envisions creating beautiful, tactile living spaces for astronauts through thoughtful workspace design.

They talk about the process of designing the Mars habitat, which involved collaborating with various experts, including Martian scientists and anthropologists. Xavier highlights the importance of breaking down silos and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration in space architecture projects.

Xavier discusses the potential of growing bamboo on Mars for construction materials and the idea of astronauts engaging in creative activities like woodworking, leading to a "Robinson Crusoe meets spaceship" aesthetic in habitat design and branding.

They explore the psychological and social aspects of living on Mars, such as the need for diverse skill sets among crew members and the potential for transcending national boundaries in favor of a unified human presence on another planet through inclusive design.

Xavier shares insights gained from visiting facilities like the European Astronaut Centre and discusses the accuracy of depictions in films like "The Martian" and "Interstellar" when portraying space habitats and workspace environments.