The inside line

Published October 5, 2022

A pile of architectural blueprints, with one paper rolled up in the centre of the picture

I wrote recently about the new The Line building revealed as a concept design based in Saudi Arabia. Whilst I was busy marvelling at the structure’s size and scope, I hadn’t considered two additional reasons why buildings like this might be the future. I did touch upon the fact that you’d be hard pushed to convince people to live in the Saudi Arabia desert if they’re just rocking up to inhabit a suburban two-bed, but that this insular-style building might be more of a draw.

Adding on to that thought is the fact that if things continue going the way they are, we might not have a choice but to start living in self-contained blocks that limit exposure to the outside. It’s been a science fiction staple for a long time - the irradiated planet being dangerous and a few hardy survivors sealed up in an abandoned warehouse somewhere. Well, climate change is here and it’s real and who knows what havoc it will cause on the planet. It may be that living in a sturdy building that has everything you need inside including green spaces, health, education, work and leisure is a necessary part of the future.

The other aspect of a building like this links in with a favourite topic of mine - the moon! We know Nasa are talking about setting up a moonbase as a lunar gateway to further exploration, and that’s another area where self-contained living will of increasing importance and development. Although the Artemis programme has gotten off to a rocky start with several delays and a rollback for their latest launch, the dream is still very much there and includes what Nasa are calling the Artemis Base Camp. The concept includes a fixed cabin, a rover and a mobile home. Caravans on the moon, people!

Of course, Base Camp is a much smaller affair than the 170km long Line building. This is a compact living space that is hoped to be able to support four astronauts for a month or two at a time. Lots of testing on habitation systems is ongoing, discussions about ideal layouts continue, and even “ideas for a combination home and office in orbit, recently testing full-size prototypes.” It puts a whole new spin on working from home.

I’ve realised why these concepts appeal to me too, as someone who has been dreaming of a bunker in the back garden for a long time. At first I thought this was just an interesting design idea that made me curious what other concepts might be around, but now I can see this may be a really crucial part of development over the next decade or so. It really will be fascinating to see what’s next.

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