Designing for Extremes

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: The starting point of this research is based on personal experience in research and design for extreme environments, including orbital and lunar planetary facilities, disaster shelters, polar stations and offshore surface and submersible habitats. This work reflects on related to research problem technical papers, discussions with professionals about their work experience with projects in extreme conditions, and students' workshops debating strategies to form sustainable behavior and design practices. Historically, projects in extreme environments are conducted following corporate- and professional checklists, which often fail to integrate important and inter-dependent sub-elements of the design process. In addition to technical challenges, projects in extreme environments deal with significant psychological challenges, due to isolation-, confinement-, deprivation-, and risk factors that planners and building designers must consider. The complexity of the problem requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Therefore, this research proposes a unified design methodology where human-related sub-element couplings are also addressed. This study finds that an interdisciplinary, comprehensive approach includes highlighting influences upon general habitat requirements, and constraints upon delivery, construction, and special provisions for safety and hazard intervention. Optimization of such design requirements based on a summary of design considerations is a key element of the matrix methodology. In a summary, the proposed methodology offers a consistent strategy for building design, staff operations and training, as well as equipment and logistical requirements for human activities. It facilitates a dialogue between all areas of expertise involved in designing, planning, living and working on site. emphasizing the importance of equal attention to all elements of the project development, including human factors and psychological aspects, in design and planning processes. Such an approach is essential to enable successful sustainable development and maintenance practices. The next steps of the research advancement are discussed including potentials of the proposed matrix methodology, which includes evolutionary databases, to serve as a foundation for developing an interactive software program for risk assessment, system-operations integration, logistics and safety.

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