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Syllabus for

Academic year
ARK271 - Design for extreme environments
Syllabus adopted 2015-02-10 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPDSD
22,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Architecture
Department: 55 - ARCHITECTURE

This course round is cancelled

Teaching language: English
Open for exchange students

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0109 Project 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c    
0209 Project 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c    
0309 Project 7,5 c Grading: TH   7,5 c    

In programs



Professor  Maria Nyström


ARK270   Design for extreme environments


In order to be eligible for a second cycle course the applicant needs to fulfil the general and specific entry requirements of the programme that owns the course. (If the second cycle course is owned by a first cycle programme, second cycle entry requirements apply.)
Exemption from the eligibility requirement: Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling these requirements.

Course specific prerequisites

Qualification for the master programme or Civil and Environmental Engineering or a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design Engineering or Design, or Human Geography with a profile in planning.


Not offered every academic year.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

Knowledge and understanding
For a passing grade the student must:
- show understanding for human needs, generally and in this project in specific situations
- show understanding for the relation between man, the objects and the physical environment.
- have knowledge about basic conditions for man in space, extreme environments, and be able to relate design adaptations and solutions to these conditions
- define an individual project
- understand and relate to links between different levels in the individual project
- present and communicate ideas and solutions
Skills and abilities
For a passing grade the student must:
- develop abilities in co-operation and interdisciplinary approach
- show ability in visionary thinking in the design process
- be able to handle, classify and document large amounts of information
- show ability to gather information and data into knowledge
- show ability in the planning and development of complex projects and processes
- work with the whole design process from problem definition, analysis and synthesis i.e. including  design solution.
- be able to visualize and communicate ideas and solutions
-use systems analysis as a design tool

Judgement and approach
For a passing grade the student must:
- in the studies/project work relate to the systematic as well as the intuitive process.
- in the project assume the needs of a human being as point of origin.
- reflect over the thought of humans in space and what that may suggest and imply.



The studio is focusing on design in extreme environments, such as micro-habitats (sub marines, spaceships, oil platforms) and climate extremes like polar regions, deserts, post-disaster areas, moon or mars. Students will be trained in planning and design in resource scarce environments. Resources need to be optimized and recycling on a local level i.e. in situ. An understanding of micro and macro level is critical. Students will explore unknown environments and work with the whole design process; collecting data, analysis and synthesis including design solutions. Dynamic systems design is used as a design tool and method. Part A includes preparatory studies including general information, lectures, design workshops to get familiar with living conditions in the extreme. Part B is focusing on designing micro-habitats supporting the daily life in extreme environments. The design work is supported by lectures by for example NASA staff. Man in relation to object and room shaping is in focus. In Part C , these radical design proposals are explored for their potential application in more conventional environments eg in developing countries, on other planets, future homes in Sweden.  The outcome are two design proposals; one for extreme micro-habitats; one for this design proposal translated into another environment, more conventional one. The project addresses issues like ergonomics and dimensioning, compact living, environmental psychology, culture and identity, material and construction, life support systems, human needs and everyday problems, environment and ecology.


The number of participants in the studio is limited. As the studio is within the master program Design for sustainable development (MPDSD), students who are admitted to MPDSD will have priority. Show up at the first day of the course. Students not attending the first course day will lose their place and it will be offered to the next in line. Any exceptions from this procedure have to be cleared with the examiner in advance. For further information about admission and registration, please contact Studentcentrum.

This studio has a background in a cooperation with S.T.A.R (Space and Terrestrial Architectural Research) Design started 1998 as a project in cooperation with NASA, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, USA.


A list of literature will be provided at the course start.


At least 80% attendance at lectures, seminars, exercises and reviews in class and on field study. The final presentation of project is to be in text, drawings, sketches and model.  Emphasis is on the design process, the presentation and documentation of it.

Page manager Published: Thu 03 Nov 2022.