DS 123: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2023)

Year: 2023
Editor: Buck, Lyndon; Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik
Author: Fairburn, Sue; Christianen, Susan; Van Rikxoort, Bailee
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada; Extreme Design Lab, Iceland
Section: Ethical, social and/or environmental issues in design and engineering, and their education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2023.62
ISBN: 978-1-912254-19-4


Unprecedented extreme climate emergencies are becoming part of everyday conversations and experiences. As students seek how to design for these challenges, design educators need to enhance learning in the area of *habitability in extreme environments. Author Solnit defines emergency as “separation from the familiar, a sudden emergence into a new atmosphere” (p.x, 2009). The authors’ experience in extremes and habitability* inform design education projects for unfamiliar, remote settings, where the challenge is inaccessibility to real end users and real-time conditions. This is a case study of a habitat designed and prototyped by a student team in one location, installed and inhabited in a remote setting by analogue (where one situation is intended to simulate another: a common approach in space architecture) astronauts. (*design of suitable living conditions/life support systems). Project Design briefs invite students to frame a problem to generate and test prototypes to an expected final state, leading them to develop skills, confidence and competencies. For the case study described, the full-scale prototype was installed in a remote lava tube (representing a subsurface cave on the moon) and used by two crews during two missions. Extreme contexts can captivate students and lead to spectacular concepts. While this project’s success was the development of a prototype, the habitability experience was problematic. Post-mission reporting cites the success of a design but not its crew's experience, therefore the authors offer recommendations for extended learning to future-enable design education through field-relevant skills, socially meaningful competencies and resilient contextual solutions.

Keywords: habitability, analogues, prototyping, extreme environments, Life Support Systems (LSS) design


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