Life support system as the sacred element;

an emblem of a group of people in an environment

where there is no nature to worship


Lunar Totem is our final studio project, an infrastructure system for a lunar colony that grows from 6 to 144 people. The system contains a master plan of the colony its life support, power generation and network of connections though which each facility is linked. The blog describes the process from site selection to designing of each aspect taking into account the four expected stages in through which the base grows.

Our concept is imbedded in idea of place making beyond the functionality of   the system we wanted the system to embody a sense of sacredness as this system protects the inhabitants from harshness of space, it keeps them alive and creates opportunities for them to thrive. Introducing   Lunar Totem  





To develop an  a lunar base  that grows in phases  from 0 to 4 –  incorporating  infrastructure , life support , living , working, recreation, sports and greenhouse  systems  for a group of people that starts from 6 up to 144

The variety of tasks the Infrastructure process entails


Totem as architectural archetype

Both the lighthouse and the welcome sign for the new selenites. Will it become the first architectural landmark on the moon?


Centralized system as the most democratic way to cover and supply every module needs


Surface temperature: -173°C , to 127°C
Average distance from Earth: 384,400km
Gravity: 1.6 m/s2, or 16% that of Earth’s
Solar day: 29.5 Earth days
Sunlight angle :  various – 30 Max
Atmosphere: Negligible
Radiation : Hazardous


Challenges  for Lunar base 

  • Lack of atmosphere
  • Water  not in liquid form
  • Extreme  temperature differences 
  • High level of radiation – solar flares + solar wind 
  • Low gravity 
  • Frequent meteoroid impact 
  • Moon dust 
  • Life sustaining resources not readily available 
  • Isolated – far away from earth to rely  on immediate help


Why Lunar south pole ? Why inside a crater ?

                            Reasons for locating on lunar south pole



  • Access to Water
  • Sunlight (shorter moon night)
  • Access to Far and Near Side of the Moon (which means research on their differing crusts)
  • Proximity to a flat landing
  • Earth Visibility
  • Existence of Lava tubes
  • Lava tubes of different size


  • Poor Communication with Earth

                                             Reasons for locating inside a crater

A crater at the Polar region

  • casts a shadow which would protect the astronauts from solar wind & radiation
  • ample sunlight at rims to power settlement
  • directing the light to melt ice water
  • direct communication with earth due to alignment
  • Smaller probability of meteorites impact
  • Existence of water in the perpetual shadow bottom
  • Natural protection of our resources
  • Vertical machine where mine resources in vertical
  • And distribute them in horizontal





At The Edge Of  A Crater


Selectable access to solar radiation
Due to horizontal sunlight modules can choose availability

Growing system
Some modules grow vertically while others horizontally

Connection to resources
All the modules should be connected with totem


Crater edge divided into 7 districts, putting infrastructure at the center. Good circulation between modules


Growth Pattern

Modules around the edge of the crater  will have complicated function by growth and not only replicating their functions


The complex network of interconnected systems and resources   that are essential to the life support system  needed for a functioning lunar base

Our  Approach focuses on  food and waste  , regolith and building materials  , oxygen and water


The Totem   houses  the lunar base’s life support  system along with its  resources extraction , storage  and power generation  becoming the colonies symbolic and literal heart. the canopy  of solar cells envelopes  the other  functions of the base  visually shielding from the harsh lunar environment. similar to  a tree  its structure houses and stores vital life-support systems  each connect via  bridges and at  base  oxygen water regolith and other resources are collected for bases use.

Storage of resources 

In-Situ Resource Utilization – NASA  estimates  the following resource requirement 

6 people    – 400 m2 (STORAGE)

150 people – 10000 m2 (STORAGE)

Totem  acts as a place  that stores these vital resources and as the base grows the  totem  starts to change the empty slots begins to slowly disappears


Power Generation

The base is powered through two sources  Nuclear  and solar . Nuclear plant powers and supports the life support system   making sure the base’s vital components have power  regardless of the time of the day  while solar power  caters to the running of the base and handing the production of oxygen and other resource.  Two powers sources provides redundancy to the system an essential aspect  when designing on the lunar surface.

PV Solar Array Requirement 

6 People    – 400 m2

150 people – 10000 m2

The four phases though which batteries populate the totem structure



Growth Pattern

animation  show the the growth of the totem


To design a  system that  is efficient  yet flexibility allowing the user to connect at their own pace 


  1. central ring around the totem 
  2. The ring is connected  with modules  through bridges  which also connect  them to the resources  
  3. Two inner rings   one with a high speed rail and other a pedestrian corridor
  4. Each module is linked with these  rings  through a hub that acts as a stop for the rail
  5. Three exit corridors are linked to the pedestrian corridor  which is connected to the  maintenance hub 
  6. Pods on the rail transport supplies and people 

Bridges + Rail +corridor + ducts


Inner Ring – Quantum Levitation Rail System


  • Provide a fast  method  of  traveling  in between modules to minimize solar radiation
  • Provide supplies , maintenance  emergency services to  modules 
  • Low energy  and maintenance  method of  connecting ( moon dust)


  1. speed of similar systems on earth = 19 m/s
  2. the Circumference of the crater is 472m  it around 25s to make a round trip
  3. Quantum levitation needs  around  -190C  to operate – moon’s  craters are around -170C 
  4. Major energy drain on earth is drag. Moon has no air 
  5. two PODS  able to carry 36 people each / storage

Bridge Design


Growth Pattern




growth of the lunar habitat from Phase 1 to Phase 4

Rotation of the sun around the lunar base






Taurus (Torus) is a project of IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed in the Master of Advanced Computation in Architecture and Design 2021/22 by

Students: Mohammad Daniyal Tariq , Lucía Leva, and Takeaki Sakakibara

Faculty: Xavier De Kestelier, Joanna Maria Lesna, and Levent Ozruh