Japanese researchers are developing artificial-gravity buildings for space

Satellite in outer space.

Architects have conjured some odd-shaped space habitats. Image: Unsplash/NASA

Anne Quito
Design Reporter, Quartz
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Space is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


  • Japanese researchers unveil renderings of an 'artificial gravity living facility' dubbed as 'The Glass'.
  • 'The Glass' prototype is designed for the atmospheric conditions on Mars and the Moon with a focus on artificial gravity.
  • Creating an environment with Earth-like gravity is the key to thriving in space, explain the researchers.

Architects have conjured some odd-shaped space habitats over the years—airtight orbs, geodesic domes, and lantern-shaped structures among them. Japanese researchers, however, believe that the optimal extraterrestrial architecture is conical.

At a July 5 conference, a team from Kyoto University and the construction firm Kajima Corporation unveiled renderings of an “artificial gravity living facility” whose shape is conducive to approximating living conditions on earth. The 1,300-ft.-tall rotating structure, dubbed “The Glass,” is designed to complete a full rotation every 20 seconds, using centrifugal force to achieve the “normal gravity” humans are used to.

Artificial gravity living facility.
The team's artificial gravity living facility. Image: Kajima corporation.

Designed for atmospheric conditions on Mars and the Moon, the team aims to erect a prototype of The Glass on the lunar surface by 2050, the local paper Asahi Shimbum reports.

A focus on artificial gravity research as the age of space tourism begins

The Japanese researchers say that creating an environment with Earth-like gravity is the key to thriving in space. “Without gravity, mammals might not be able to reproduce and their babies might not develop well,” the team explains in a press statement. “When a person grows under a zero or low gravity environment, their body would change so they wouldn’t be able to stand up on earth.”

The Kajima-Kyoto University team says Earthlings are clueless about how children adapt to a state of weightlessness, pointing out that NASA’s gravity research has largely been focused on adults. Studies show that traveling across different gravity fields can cause bone loss, back pain, and kidney stones.

As space tourism becomes available to more people, researchers say they want to shed light on the effect of microgravity environments on a diversity of human bodies.


Making other planets hospitable to humans

Beyond the standalone habitats, the researchers say we need to think of designing other artificial-gravity infrastructure to support communities on other celestial bodies. The scope of their research even includes developing a transportation system for interplanetary travel. They envision a “Hexagon Space Track System” that will maintain normal gravity during long-distance journeys.

Space complex.
Maintaining normal gravity - even during long journies. Image: Kajima Corporation.

“A completely original idea from Japan”

“The US and the UAE are proactively proposing the migration to Mars, but I would like to send out a completely original idea from Japan,” said Yosuke Yamashiki, a professor at Kyoto University’s SIC Manned Cosmology Research Center. “The core technologies are not being developed by other countries, and they’re indispensable for realizing human space migration.”

“Developing an artificial gravity residential facility with Kyoto University will be a watershed moment in space research,” echoed Takuya Ohno, an architect and researcher at Kajima. “We will work to make this joint research meaningful for humankind.”


How is the World Economic Forum ensuring the responsible use of technology?

Have you read?
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum