The Martian Embassy

©Brett Boardman

A Martian Embassy was designed by LAVA [Laboratory for Visionary Architecture] as an immersive space of oscillating plywood ribs brought to life by red planet light and sound projections.

LAVA’s design, with partners Will O’Rourke and The Glue Society, is for The Sydney Story Factory, a not-for-profit creative writing center for young people in Redfern, Sydney.

The design is a fusion of a whale, a rocket and a time tunnel - inspired by the stuff great stories are made of - Moby Dick, H. G. Wells’ Time Machine and 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.

The concept is to awaken creativity in kids, so the design acts as a trigger, firing up the engines of imagination. It’s an intergalactic journey - from the embassy, at the street entrance, to the shop full of red planet traveler essentials, to the classroom. By the time kids reach the writing classes they have forgotten they are in “school”.

©Peter Murphy


LAVA used a fluid geometry to merge the three program components [embassy, school and shop], and a computer model was sliced and ‘nested’ into buildable components. A total of 1068 pieces of CNC-cut plywood were put together like a giant puzzle. Using technologies from the yacht and space industry the timber ribs create shelves, seats, benches, storage, counters and displays and continue as strips on the floor. Edged with Martian green, the curvy plywood flows seamlessly so that walls, ceiling and floor, space, structure and ornament, become one element.

A mix of Martian essential oils inspires young imaginations, whilst the sounds and lights of the red planet animate the space.

Martian passports, alien money, 1kg cans of gravity, abduction kits and SPF 5000 sunscreen are just some of the ‘Made on Mars’ gift products sold in the Martian Embassy store.

The project was a collaboration with production company Will O’Rourke and their creative partners The Glue Society who developed the Martian concept, which was road tested with kids of all ages.


©Peter Murphy
©Brett Boardman
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