SkyriseCities headquarters is closed for the holidays. We'll be back with our regularly scheduled editorial on January 2nd, but we've collected fantastical projects that leave solid earth to give you something to read while we're away.

It's human nature to want to discover the undiscovered, break new ground, and make a lasting impact. Though no person has ever set foot on Mars, dreams of colonization have persisted in the psyche of the world's leading scientists, astronauts, and business magnates for decades. On a planet increasingly marred by climate change, mass poverty and terror attacks, the prospect of colonizing Mars is perhaps no more relevant — or technologically achievable — than today.

The cavernous voids employ skylight holes, image via ZA Architects

Based out of Dusseldorf, ZA Architects has mapped out a scenario for possible Mars colonization. Under the scheme, a fleet of robots would be flown to the red planet to dig large voids in the basalt bedrock. On both Mars and Earth, there are areas where basaltic lava has quickly cooled and created dense groups of hexagonal columns, which can be removed to create underground cavernous spaces. Once the hole has been excavated, the robots would create web-like platforms from basalt fibres, a much-used material in the aerospace and automotive industries that is stronger and lighter than steel. The insulation that the fibres provide are also ideal for the creation of protective cocoon-like spaces.

Interior of the excavation with its webbed floors, image via ZA Architects

The architects admit there are several existing constraints that would inhibit current implementation of the plan. Unreliability, high cost and size limitation of cargoes are among the biggest roadblocks. But ongoing technological advances may soon make a project like this one attainable in the near future. And just like in the book and film The Martian, some soil on the planet has been deemed appropriate to facilitate flourishing vegetable crops. Such food production on Mars would avert the need for expensive deliveries from Earth. Through SpaceX, Elon Musk has expressed his desire to "help humanity establish a permanent, self-sustaining colony on Mars within the next 50 to 100 years." The Netherlands-based Mars One organization has similarly proposed to land the first humans on Mars and establish a permanent human colony by 2032. 

Mars colonization stages, image via ZA Architects

Do you think Mars colonization will happen within your lifetime? Does this project pique your interest? Let us know by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page.