What would a future settlement on Mars look like?

Italian architect Stefano Boeri has revealed his artistic concept for a Mars colony in 2117 in which humans live in multiple transparent spheres, each containing numerous self-sustaining towers covered in plants.

His vision, which was created in collaboration with Tongji University in China, formed part of the SUSAS (Shanghai Urban Space Art Season) exhibition in Shanghai, which was curated by Boeri.

In creating the concept, he thought about the fact that if humans don't take action against climate change, cities like Shanghai which lie at sea level could be flooded as a result of global warming. This led him to proposing an idea for what a future human colony might look like.

Each of the spheres draws on Boeri's 'Forest Cities' concept – a futuristic urban planning proposal based around the idea of eco-friendly building complexes which are covered in plants, absorbing pollutants and carbon dioxide, as well as generating oxygen.

Mars colony 2217
High-rise buildings inside the spheres covered in plants. Stefano Boeri

He has already designed towers in Italy, Belgium and China and is planning a 'Forest City' in Guanxi, southern China - expected to be completed in 2020 - which will be home to 30,000 people.

In his concept, the transparent spheres would be transported to Mars via an interplanetary space station.

Forest city concept
A Forest City concept in China. Stefano Boeri

The vision, called a 'New Shanghai', is strictly an artistic concept and is not currently viable with existing technology.

But Boeri is not the only one imagining futuristic settlements on Mars. Earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates announced plans to set up a mini city on Mars by the year 2117 as part of a programme designed to learn more about the Red Planet.

UAE Mars Science City
The UAE's Mars city concept. Government of Dubai