Last year, NASA revealed a three-part plan to send humans to live on Mars by 2030. As part of its Habitat Challenge, the space agency asked architects to design a livable habitat for astronauts to survive for long periods on the planet. Hong Kong architect Sidney Tang was one of the top 30 finalists with his “Martian Domes” design. He tells Isabelle Hon about the inspiration behind it and his passion for outer space.
HK Magazine: When did you become interested in architecture?
Sidney Tang: When I was young I didn’t know I would be so into architecture. I just loved beautiful, delicate things. I was bad at math, so I chose an art-related subject. I started to really fall in love with architecture when I started studying it in university.
HK: How did you become involved in the NASA competition?
ST: At the very early stages, I just sent some pdfs and proposals of my dream house on Mars to NASA. I tried to become knowledgeable about space and then apply a cool concept to my design. The house I designed consists of several egg shapes; the rooms are all separate so people can escape from one egg to another egg during an emergency. Of course, it would be made of specific materials that would be durable in space. Later, I created my design using 3D-printing and made it to the final round.
HK: What do you think helped you create a successful model?
ST: I love to observe, and I love to learn about everything—I am a jack of all trades. Of course everyone has setbacks sometimes, including me. I tried to apply for so many jobs before graduating— but I never got any replies. Once I went into a wellknown architect’s firm trying to get an interview, and the assistant just told me to leave. Those experiences were hard to deal with, as I was still a student at that time. Whenever I got turned away I would write a note: “I will be back.” HK: Does anyone ever tell you your smile looks like Chow Yun-fat’s?
ST: Yes! People have said I look like Chow Yun-fat since secondary school. They all call me “Fat Gor.” But I think my boss likes my personality more— appearance doesn’t directly help me with my career, but it does make it easier for people to recognize me. When I was in university, I always sat in on other courses besides my major, such as business and film media. It was a big class but the professor still recognized me at first glance. We became good friends. I helped to design the wood deck on his house.
HK: Does being a NASA-recognized architect help you get girls?
ST: I am single, but I am not expecting anything at the moment. I think it will come if it comes.
HK: Any tips for residents of planet Earth?
ST: There are limited resources on the planet right now, and we might have the chance to move to other planets in the future. We really have to treasure what we have now. Also, nowadays Hong Kong seems divided into Yellows and Blues; I think people should try to make friends with each other and be more united.
What if one day we have to cope with aliens?
Check out Sidney’s design at facebook.com/nasamartiandomes.