The idea of designing a ‘SpaceHouse’ for use on Earth was actually born five years ago, just after the large earthquake in Izmit, Turkey in 1999. “We started wondering whether some of our advanced technologies developed for space exploitation could provide completely earthquake-safe housing”, says Fritz Gampe, Senior Technology Transfer Officer in ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme (TTP).

A European Space Agency-designed house that uses technology designed for space could become the basis of the new German Antarctic station, Neumayer-III. The new station has to meet stringent laws set up to protect the Antarctic environment, which is where the use of space technology comes in.

In 2001 the Alfred Wegener Institute that is responsible for polar and oceanic research, and the German Antarctic station, saw the initial design of the SpaceHouse and decided to join with ESA in developing a conceptual design for a polar house based on the SpaceHouse technologies. The design they came up with was presented at the 28th meeting of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research that took place in Bremen last month.

The design that engineers and designers came up with is a sphere-like structure – one of the most stable self-sustained shapes. As it stands on legs it is isolated from any movements underneath it as it basically glides on top of the Earth. In its current design the SpaceHouse can withstand vibrations from earthquakes of up to 7 on the Richter scale, wind speeds of up to 220 km/h and up to 3 metres of flooding – specifications that came out of discussions with the insurance industry for a typical European location.

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