An out-of-this-world challenge…

Earlier this year, Eleven magazine announced is first international ideas and design competition: “MOONTOPIA”, an out of this world challenge looking at space architecture.

“….In 1969, the space race peaked with the success of the Apollo 11 mission bringing the first man to walk on the moon. Today, nearly half a century later, new technological advances and a renewed desire to explore space are igniting a new race. This time, however, we are tired of just walking. We want to inhabit! But how?

We invite thinkers, architects, designers, artists, academics and visionaries from around the world to imagine innovative solutions for Moontopia – the first ever self-sufficient lunar colony designed for living, working, researching and – why not – a little space tourism too.

How will mankind exist on the moon? You decide.”

Organised as the first project for final year students by Senior Lecturer, Monica Franchin, the Moontopia competition asked students to consider the moon as a testing ground for a wider discussion on the historic and contemporary ideas of utopia and how design proposals off-planet might inform more detailed design ideas here on Earth.

The students looked at a range of work including Plato’s Republic (370-360 BCE), Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) and Bacon’s New Atlantis (1627) to inform ideas of community, identity and democracy, how these might be influenced by design and, in turn, how design might impact on these contemporary issues.

Three of our students submitted an entry to the competition and their work can be seen below.

Community. Brewing. Rainforest

Students: Hannah Williams, Hannah Godwin and Caitlin Goble

Living. Working. Researching. These are the fundamental values on which we have based our concept: bringing the community of the lunar colony together through shared purpose.

Combining each of our ideas, we have formed a succinct and cohesive concept, enabling the lunar colony to thrive on the Moon and create a place where the future of the human civilization can exist. The concept is formed of three main elements: public engagement, protection and purpose. Each of these is represented in an individual area of the design.


A border-less public space on the Moon providing an environment to improve and encourage social cohesion among the lunar colony, creating a shared, communal, area which has collective ownership and mutual belonging.

The three-tiered structure contains a variety of different functions and forms part of the trio of concepts, connected by walkways to interlink each area. The facility communicates with those back on Earth with the aim of changing society’s behaviour to create a more socially-sustainable culture.


Research suggests that some plants in the rainforest can have cancer-fighting properties, certain plant compounds enable scientists to understand how cancer cells grow. It is becoming more urgent than ever to preserve the precious contents of the rainforests on Planet Earth.

Growing a rainforest on the Moon, with the primary aims being protection and preservation, would enable uninterrupted research to take place and possible cures for cancer to be found. Preserving the rainforest on the Moon solves this issue.

The community, which will form around the rainforest and “Brewtopia”, will live and work alongside each other with a sense of connection, for example, scientists will observe the quality control of the hops and barley in the rainforest growing for the brewing business.


“Brewtopia” is the first ever micro-brewery on the Moon, producing ‘Moon dust’ beer to send back to Earth creating an economic connection through trade. The design of the micro-brewery reflects on keywords such as community, purpose, teamwork and discovery, which can be lacking on Earth.

The design is open plan with connecting bridges weaving around the tanks to link the space. Starting with a local idea, it has real potential to expand in scale. The beer will be brewed in the 14 days of sunlight and then freeze-dried in the 14 days of darkness, transformed into powder to send back to Earth for the global community to use.

The design focuses on connecting the employees in a space reflecting equality in the lunar-society, further regenerating the importance of micro-businesses, craft products, artisan-ship and community: made up of people with common values, interests and a sense of purpose.

The primary aim for this collaborative concept is to encourage social cohesion, a greater sense of community and public engagement, as well as promoting a mutual existence among the lunar colony.