Colonising a World: Shelter

When establishing a colony, it’s very important to have some kind of shelter ready.  However, permanent shelter takes some time to build, so something temporary needs to be available from the beginning.  But for a colony of 15,000 people, how can it be done?

Assuming we’re using the initial settlement for Ariadne, it’s on a generally flat coastal plain with grasslands and forest nearby.  Building houses takes quite some time, but construction can start soon after settlement.  In the meantime, the colonists may have to camp.  One option is tents.  Depending on the climate and the possibility of extreme weather and dangerous animals, this may be a risky thing to do.  But in a stable situation, it may be the easiest.

The transport shuttles could also be converted into temporary shelter that could hold a few hundred people, albeit in cramped conditions.  They could be outfitted with kitchens that could feed everyone, though that may be a difficult thing to do.

Another option is to build large structures with easy to assemble prefabricated parts that were transported on the ship along with the colonists.  This may be the best and safest idea.  Although it would likely look like they live in big warehouses, they can be kept safe from the elements, have some conveniences such as industrial kitchens, washrooms with toilets and baths (once connected to a water supply), and some entertainment.  It may be like a huge dormitory, but at least they have a place to stay.  It’s temporary, though.

Over the first few months, a large amount of construction will be taking place, including housing, power facilities, water facilities, schools, hospitals, public gathering places, and more.  But the houses are something that people will really look forward to.

What would they make the houses with?  They could use local trees, though they wouldn’t know if they’re similar to Earth trees.  They could plant bamboo and use that.  It’s strong, fast-growing, and quite flexible, not to mention a source of food.  If the area is seismically stable, using stone or brick is another option.  As the settlement is located near a major river, clays should be abundant and very useful.

Larger apartments may also be constructed, and these would require strong metal frames.  Thankfully, iron should be abundant, and concrete should be easy to make.

In the 22nd century, construction techniques would likely be much better, more energy efficient, and use more environmentally friendly materials.  New technologies and materials may be developed for the colony, as well.  These may be an option, but it’s likely that early colonists will go with the simplest and easiest ways of building homes.

If you could build a house on another planet, how would you build it?