In situ construction, using the materials readily available on the moon, was the way forward. The unique challenge for Project Olympus will be an alchemical one: getting regolith—a fine gray powder that consists of minerals such as basalt and feldspar—to behave like a printing medium, likely through melting or sintering it to a lava-like consistency. Using the molten material, the architects envisage 3D-printing vaulted structures made from a waffle-like network of rigid exterior ribs. These, in turn, can be filled with regolith, which has the added benefit of absorbing intense solar radiation (up to 100 times more than on Earth, according to Ingels) and mitigating the impact of mini meteorites that pummel the moon’s surface each year.
BIG has unveiled a master plan for what these building techniques could yield, complete with roads, garages for lunar vehicles, facilities for collecting lunar surface material, and, of course, human habitats complete with