Prefab Inflatable Home + 3D Printed Shell by Hassell, Mars

About Hassell
About Eckersley O’Callaghan

Design TeamXavier De Kestelier, Jonathan Irawan, Shawn Wu, Xuanzhi Huang, Nikolaos Argyros, David Brown
Structural EngineeringEckersley O’Callaghan
Project Year2018

Hassell sets out to design the perfect habitat (prefab inflatable home under 3D printed shell ) for space explorers on the red planet as part of NASA’s international 3D Printed Habitat Challenge.

Hassell team, in collaboration with structural engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan (EOC), was shortlisted to design the world’s first human home on Mars. In Hassell design, an external shell made from local Martian regolith would be built in advance by autonomous robots before exploration teams arrived to construct the interior – a series of prefab inflatable ​‘pods’ containing everything for work and life on Mars.

Hassell aim was to bring a more human element to space design, typically all about maximum efficiency and performance. Hassell habitat - prefab inflatable home and 3D printed shell goes far beyond just ticking the boxes for safety and survival. It’s a home away from home where astronauts can carry out the most important work in the history of space exploration.

Hassell and EOC were shortlisted as a top 10 entry in the challenge.



About Hassell

Our purpose is to design the world’s best places – places people love.

Globalisation, climate change, urbanisation, and digitisation present new opportunities and challenges for how we live.

In this fast-changing context, we bring together the best designers and thinkers in a unique collaborative process that results in both beautiful design and measurable value.

We work across architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and urban design - a rich multi-disciplinary mix of skills and perspectives that unlocks the economic, social and cultural value of projects.

We combine our creative design expertise with capabilities in strategy, research, technology and experience design, and we regularly collaborate with experts and partners from further afield.

Through our work, we’re trying to build a more inclusive, sustainable future for communities - and create a more socially and ecologically resilient world.

Our clients look to us for more than our design skills. They want us to help them unlock value for their business and their end users – and find ways to better connect people.

Design approach

We believe in the impact of great design. Design that is engaging, enriching, and enduring. Design that adds beauty and value to the world.

Great design is driven by meaningful ideas explored through research and testing, and achieved through open-minded collaboration.

It deals with complexity. It achieves outcomes that feel both unanticipated and yet obvious. It engages our emotions and sparks new conversations. It shapes our physical world as well as our culture – our lives and experiences.

The world’s best places are always more than the sum of their parts. They go generously beyond the brief to create a better future.


Hassell’s strategy team helps clients and designers develop a deeper understanding of the organisations and people at the heart of our projects. The strategies we develop help our clients make better use of their space, set up for the future and respond to change over time.

The team brings an open-minded curiosity to their work, uncovering and sharing specific insights – rich data and analytics that boost long-term value for clients.

Our strategists come from backgrounds as varied as psychology, technology, business, architecture, art, and graphic and industrial design.

This diversity allows the team to consider and convey information like design briefs, strategies and design directions analytically, mathematically, spatially, conceptually and visually – to a range of organisations and individuals.

“Great design starts with great strategy, and great strategy starts with people.”

Evodia Alaterou, Hassell Design Strategy Lead


Our in-house research team conducts original research on topics as diverse as why design matters to nurses, what makes campuses relevant to students in the age of digital learning, whether design is a factor in attracting talent and the similarities and differences between incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces.

A team of practical-minded thinkers with plenty of experience in the field, our researchers help design teams and clients understand how trends will affect the spaces we design together, providing early insight into how to future-proof projects.

Our researchers typically work in partnership with universities and industry experts worldwide, and they’ve garnered plenty of recognition and awards for their work over the years.

Design technology and innovation

Our global design technology and innovation team is focused on how we can harness new and emerging technologies to elevate our design process – and our design outcomes. The powerful tools we use help us create buildings and spaces that are flexible enough to capitalise on the innovations of tomorrow.

Our capabilities include:

- BIM – With more than 150 specialists in Building Information Modelling, we deploy this critical technology on large, complex projects such as Optus Stadium in Perth, Australia, an award-winning venue with a benchmark BIM process recognised at the international Autodesk Conference in 2019.
- Virtual reality – VR brings our evolving projects to life for clients and users. On the University of Brighton business school in the UK, we employed it for everything from in-house design development to client presentations to consultation with university staff.
- Computational design – We use computational tools such as parametric models to solve complex geometrical problems - like designing a spiral staircase for the WA Museum Boola Bardip.

Our team is also actively involved in conversations about next-gen thinking in our industry as well as future-focused design competitions like NASA’s 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge.

Experience Masterplanning

Experience masterplanners FreeState have built their reputation working alongside some of the world’s biggest brands - like Google, Sony and Virgin Atlantic.

Today, their practice supports Hassell and their clients across a range of sectors and markets.

FreeState starts with users’ needs, then designs outwards - for students, passengers, employees, visitors or customers. They’re focused on the emotions and needs that shape a world-class experience masterplan. Their teams use a unique methodology that relies on ethnographic research, human insight and truth, and creativity to ensure brands and organisations attract, engage and retain their audience.

FreeState’s people come from a variety of backgrounds, including design strategy, management consulting, spatial design, place-making, technology and brand. That diversity helps them partner with clients to create user-centric narratives - designed journeys and immersive experiences that connect people with brands, each other and places they’ll never forget.

“What we’ve seen really clearly over the past 20 years is a shift into the era of experience. People are increasingly placing value on 'experiences' over 'things' – and their expectations of those experiences are very high.”

Adam Scott, FreeState Creative Director


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About Eckersley O’Callaghan

Brian Eckersley and James O’Callaghan founded Eckersley O’Callaghan in 2004, with a shared vision of a structural design practice that truly integrates engineering and architecture.

It's a vision that has proved to be successful. We regularly collaborate with the most respected names in architecture and design, while our clients include some of the world's most valuable companies.

Our team of structural and facade engineers has cultivated an international reputation through a commitment to research and innovation.

It’s this reputation that has spurred our exceptional growth, with over 90 professionals working on projects around the world. Our facades team is now one of the largest in London.

Our iconic work with structural glass has received some of the highest accolades in the industry, including the IStructE Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence, while our use of other materials in structural and facade engineering has gained similar recognition.

Eckersley O’Callaghan has twice received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise; for Innovation in 2010, and International Trade in 2018.


Address9th Floor, 236 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8HB, UK


Address63 Newton Street, Manchester M1 1ET, UK
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New York

Address26 Broadway, Suite 1306, New York NY 10004 USA
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Los Angeles

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San Francisco

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Hong Kong

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Address2nd Floor, B-49 Sector-48, Noida 201303 India
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AddressLevel 19, 207 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
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Prefab Inflatable Home + 3D Printed Shell by Hassell, Mars