A Rille-Bottom Settlement for Three Thousand People

Part IV Previously Published in Moon Miners' Manifesto # 29, October 1989


Peter Kokh, Myles Mullikin and Louise Rachel


A. Modular Housing

Prinzton would be quite unlike any previous Lunar outpost or settlement. Gone will be the pressure-hull habitats separately covered with meters of shielding soil, the early form of burrow-warren living that will have become synonymous with Lunar subsistence, fulfilling the unanimous prediction. In such accommodations to the Lunar facts of life, there will be the starkest of differences between "indoors" and "outdoors", life and death.

In contrast, Prinzton is constructed within macro-sized and communally-shared pressure envelopes = the sealed rille floor and side-slopes capped with catenary vaults and end-walls. Such a scheme introduces an ample "middoors" environment, open space with generous picture postcard vistas and "shirtsleeve" freedom for getting about, for recreation, and for arranging homes and other buildings that do not need to be each pressure-tight. This will allow construction methods more reminiscent of back-home.

Yet there are important differences between building beneath Earth's starry skies and building under Prinzton's artificial sky-vaults.

1) The Lunar gravity is l/6th Earth-normal or "sixthweight". This allows lighter construction, especially for multistory structures, and freer use of cantilever techniques.

2) building materials commonplace to us may be unavailable: wood, vinyl and other synthetics, some metals. Concrete may well be expensive if economically recoverable Lunar polar ice deposits are not found by Lunar Prospector or other polar orbiters.

3) There'll be a premium on early occupancy. This means that building shells must not be labor-intensive and must be erectable by fast and simple methods. Once occupied, they can be given fresh distinguishing exterior and interior treatments at leisure. Thus a certain look-alike cookie-cutter appearance is to be expected, with personalizing makeovers coming in due time.

4) The very small labor market, not only in contrast to our Earthside experience but in comparison with Space Colony expectation, will work to minimize initial options. "Modularity" will be at a very unsophisticated gross level, especially at the outset.

We had to take all these things into consideration in developing Town Plans for the three Prinzton villages. The first would have to be as simple as possible yet with interesting and attractive features. The plans for the second and third villages should illustrate increased sophistication that the growing labor pool and increased industrial diversification will allow.

The plan for the first village, EASTVALE, was conceived by Peter Kokh. He chose a simple street plan with a closed loop boulevard, portions of which boast median canals, and 200 individual home sites, 2 100-unit apartment complexes, schools, offices, and other buildings all using a version of the same basic module.

The determining idea behind the EASTVALE Plan is that module shells would be cast in a Rille top factory (at high temperature with the need for concentrated solar heat) probably of glass-glass composites (Glax*) of minimally refined formulation. With openings ready for fitting with standard window and door units, and with the interior surfaces ready for snap-in electrical service, these units would be brought down the rille slope in a pressurized cargo elevator (whose dimensions determine module size) to the central freight-transit corridor along the rille bottom. Next they'd move into the village for essential outfitting at a central plant, and then to the home-site etc. for erection and immediate occupancy.

All other finishing would be done at leisure: surface treatments, interior walls, furnishings, etc. Large landscaping trays would be similarly designed to singly, or jigsaw-like, stack neatly in the same cargo elevator.

These restrictions offer a design challenge. Yet interesting combinations are possible via varied module-stacking methods. Opposite, are some illustrations.

A dull and drab newborn village will slowly transform itself into a pleasant place to live. Homes could run several tiers high as families purchase and stack additional units crisscross on top of one another as they outgrow the original "issue flat." Many such starter flats may be turned into home enterprise shops, as the growing family moves to new quarters above.

The original grays of crude glax surfaces will soon be hidden under glazes and whitewashes and other surface treatments: tiles, bricks, shutters, and panels. Original balcony railing designs will add distinction. There will be an ever-fresh look to EASTVALE townscapes. The need to personalize and individualize will be a strong incentive for new settler enterprises (at first, spare-time endeavors, as everyone is needed to provide essentials).

In comparison, the village residential area of MIDVALE, designed by Myles A. Mullikin, shows an expected quantum leap in sophisticated modularity. As Prinzton grows, there will be more people to do more things. More individuals will be able to make serving the discretionary consumer market their principal occupation.

In MIDVALE, the all-in-one habitat unit has been abandoned as the basis for construction. This has been replaced with modular floor slab and wall panels and other elements that can be fitted together to provide a greater variation of home designs with substantially greater architectural freedom from the outset. But again, high temperature casting is done on the rille top, but now assembly is finished within the village industrial park. Early occupancy is still the driver, but in a less urgent manner.

MIDVALE's Village District features neat subdivisions of cluster homes (illustration), apartment blocks for young couples, luxury townhomes, and even a few high terrace mansions.

MIDVALE's business district would serve as Prinzton's downtown. And more than likely, Prinzton will serve as the metropolitan center for a number of outlying smaller mining settlements in this whole general area of the Moon. This will all work to make the "Metro" District of MIDVALE a much livelier place than one would otherwise suspect from its size.

Small but vital, the University of Prinzton in MIDVALE will have enterprise formation and assistance as major functions. Concentrating on research and development of 'Moon-appropriate' materials, methods and processes, and marketable applications, the university will further the growth of both the export and the domestic economies. The health of the people will also be in its care. These missions will make the UOP the lead agency in advancing Settlers' ever more thorough acculturation to their adopted world.

WESTVALE, designed by Louise Rachel, would employ similar construction systems, but Louise Rachel has specified a single neighborhood to one side of the spacious village Commons. This residential neighborhood integrates several housing types around terraced and lushly landscaped courtyards (illustration).

In WESTVALE, there will be ample provision of communal space for enterprise nourishment. By the time such space becomes available, some of the infant enterprises nourished in Eastvale might be ready to graduate to the more spacious quarters and to quantity production techniques. 'Makeovers' by the mushrooming cottage-industry-based enterprises will greet return visitors to Prinzton with much that is new and interesting.


B. The Role of Cottage industries: Peter Kokh

As we have already mentioned, the desire to express one's own personality in home and building external appearance will be a wellspring of settler enterprise starts. Equally important, will be the need to provide much greater variety of interior furniture and furnishings, clothing apparel and accessories, etc. than the standardized issue items that may be the only goods available on a mass-produced basis. However well-designed basic items are, the quest for personal variety will surge to the fore. Creative persons will use their spare-time and spare home-space to fashion wares and wears to sell or trade to one another in village markets. The rise of cottage industry might be encouraged by income and sales tax exemptions.

Gifted artisans and craftsmen will find ready acceptance of their goods. No department stores or import specialty shops will offer them competition. Their prestige in the community will be first rank, as such frontier settlements give birth to the most vigorous renaissance in arts and crafts humanity has yet seen. [More on this idea]

EASTVALE's Furniture Plant will be kept busy producing simple utilitarian items. Ready-to-finish movable interior wall sections will be a must. Another staple might well be "a" glass composite chair, with molded back and bottom in place of cushions, with interlocking sides so that more than one can be combined in love seat or sofa fashion, and with open frame and thoughtfully provided attachment points. Such chairs in single or multiple units, will be ready for use as is. But cottage industries could turn out throws and toss pillows, glaze or stencil decoration, and fabric, bead-curtain, metal filigree, stained glass, or glazed tile panel enclosures for the side/back open frames, thus transforming such common "issue" into something special and full of pride.

"Issue" glass composite tables could have a raised top edge to accommodate added glazed tile, stained glass, or other inlay (pressed leaves and flowers under glass?) by cottage artisans. Interior space dividers of open, ready to elaborate, frame panels will offer opportunity. Craftsmen of knobs and handles will be needed.

"Issue" table and floor lamps might well be simple constructs of lamp cord, conduit, socket, and bare bulb. Home-based enterprises could turn out ceramic, glass, and metal bases for these lamps, and more elaborate creations of stained glass, wire sculpture, or macramé. Similarly, there will be a strong demand for home-produced lampshades and diffusers.

"Issue" tableware could come either simply salt-glazed or unglazed ready for the creative touch. Distinctive pots for flowers and houseplants will be a 'cottage' staple.

"Issue" apparel might include only cotton underwear and uniform plain work clothing. Until Prinzton's labor force is large enough, cottage industry may have to fill the need for casual and formal wear. Bolts of bleached or unbleached cotton fabrics (broadcloth, muslin, denim, terry, and corduroy) will be transformed by pattern makers and embroiderers, and by makers of appliqués and other accessories. A central U-dye-it facility (to manage the water involved in a closed isolated loop using natural dyestuffs) will be served by makers of tie-dye aids and resist-pattern applicators. Makers of buttons, buckles, sashes, belts and knitwear will thrive.

With all this for Prinztonians to do with spare time, television, that great dissipater, could be limited to the daily news, rare specials, and prerecorded how-to-do-it videos. The alternative, attractive to some, will be contentment with monastery-class "issue".

PART I - A Settlement in a Rille Valley

PART IV - Village Residential Areas

PART II - Concepts for Rille Architecture

PART V - Multiple Energy Systems

PART III - Industry & the Three Village System

PART VI - The Import-Export Equation

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