Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (MArch)



First Advisor

Ryan McCaffrey

Second Advisor

Nicholas Moore


Our Earth is in big trouble; Our Mother Nature is in big trouble; We humanity are in even bigger trouble. The resource shortage is not an unfamiliar word to most people in the era of social media. As many ecologists and environmentalists have shouted out, we are in a time when some of the significant resources are getting consumed and wasted quickly and it will eventually being used up and lead us to nowhere if no replaceable resource has been found. Simply saying, there are just never enough resources to meet all our needs and desires and this condition is known as scarcity. At any moment in time, there is a finite amount of resources available. Even when the number of resources is very large, it is limited. Then a direct and simply question came up: what can we do to deal with it? Plans like zero-energy are no doubt the efforts to solve the problem, but in the meantime, more and more people start to consider a more sustainable but also crazier possibility: what if we have another “earth”? To colonize or to create a settlement in other planets have long been described and commonly used as a sci-fi concept. But at this special moment that involves in the continuity of the humanity, we should take it as a serious and pragmatic proposal.

In regardless of the scientific and technical challenges unresolved yet, the first question we need to ask is: how do the humanity survive in the outer space? The solution to this problem is open and will not have a definite answer shortly, but China’s application in collectivization may be a possible option to explore and this project is designated to test and prove the viability of this option. Collectivization is a controversial production policy in China’s history: on the one hand, it did increase the production rate of many agricultural crops and objectively saved millions of lives from hunger and poverty; on the other hand, it did not follow the scientific rules on how to develop the agriculture and industry in a correct way and thus resulting in unnecessary waste of resources, which makes the economic condition of the reborn China even worse in the 1950s. The Great Leap Forward, the most famous collectivization campaign in China’s history, is no wonder a failure as an economic and social activity. But the core concept that collect all the strategic resources and invest them into certain industries or areas to maximize the usage efficiency is worth exploring and developing in certain conditions. Gansu, one of the poorest and least developed provinces in 1950’s China, is in an appropriate condition that collectivization can work effectively. Before the largest iron mine in China has been found in Gansu in 1970s, the collective farming has helped increased the output of the crop production in Gansu by 75% in less than ten years. It soon made Gansu a self-sustained province that can support the growth rate of the population and added to the industrialization later along with the finding of the new iron mines.

As a result, the goal of the design project on Mars will be creating a live-work autonomy system/community derived from the idea of collectivism and self-sustainability. Specifically, multiple production and living programs, including green houses, industrial factories, dense residential areas, etc., will be introduced to support the basic living supplies in this newly settled outer-space city. However, instead of making a replica of a typical Chinese city on Mars, the regularity of each individual’s life will be interesting to look at and eventually our expectation for this settlement/city is to help it on the right track to develop in a natural and organic way after our initial intervention. China has successfully done it in Gansu, and it should also be positively welcomed on Mars too.

Included in

Architecture Commons



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