Light Fit for a Martian House

Light Fit for a Martian House

  • Posted on May 31 2022

Whitecroft Lighting has announced the winner of a lighting design competition to be installed in the Martin House public art installation in Bristol.

Conceived by Bristol artists Ella Good and Nicki Kent, The Martian House is a collaborative, experimental project that combines science and art, to create a prototype home for human beings on Mars.

Currently being constructed at M Shed on Bristol’s dockside, the life-sized home is been brought to life by specialists in the field of space exploration, extreme environments and sustainability.

The installation considers all aspects of the harsh Martian environment, and seeks to demonstrate the levels of creativity and resourcefulness that would be required to sustain a small community on the Red Planet.

In doing so, the project hopes to stimulate reflection on how we can consider and change the way we consume products and materials on Earth.

The competition asked teams or individuals of any age to design a pendant lampshade that considered sustainability, functionality and originality, but also made the Martian House feel more like home.

Entries were judged by an independent panel consisting of Martian House creators Ella Good and Nicki Kent, plus project architects Hugh Broughton and Owen Pearce.

The judges were impressed by the standard of the 28 entries, and found it particularly hard to separate the three finalists.

Martian House Winning Design Emilio's winning design (1st place) 

But the adjudicators finally agreed on a winning design by Emilio Hernandez, a 38-year old lighting designer living in Malmo, Sweden, who impressed the judges with a discreet but powerful lighting design that uses water and materials harvested from Martian ice and minerals.

Emilio’s design, which earned him a £250 first prize, (matched by £250 charity donation from Whitecroft Lighting), will now be transformed into reality via a 3D –printer, using 99.5% recycled material, and will then be incorporated into Whitecroft’s Martian House lighting installation.

Winner Emilio said: “Lighting designers are always trying to interpret and replicate the light that passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, and replicating our light and sky would benefit people living on Mars.

“‘Bottling' earths blue sky would be a welcome reminder of home in a faraway planet. My design incorporates internal reflection - and allowing the light to escape the luminaire from an invisible source removes any sense of scale when it’s viewed.” 

Emilio concludes: “One of my key design considerations was the need to reduce the transport weight by sourcing local materials on Mars. These concepts are important for space travel, but can also be applied to circular economy principles here on earth.”

The judges were also quick to compliment the third placed design, not least because it originated from 14-year old Sam Hewitt from Bristol, who also scooped £100 and a matching charity donation.  

Martian House 3rd Place DesignSam's Rocket design (3rd place)

As mentioned, a key principle of the Martian House project is to explore how the Martian community can live sustainably on the planet, by minimising waste, and maximising material recycling and reusability.

Artist, competition judge, and Martian House co-creator Ella Good said: “I was delighted by the standard and diversity of the entries, the variety of designs really reflected the broad range of skill, ages and backgrounds of the entrants - finding a winner from such a spread of knowledge and creativity was a challenge.

“But on reflection, we felt Emilio’s design best embraced the competition brief and values of the Martian House, bringing together science, art, humanity and sustainability, so congratulations and well done to him.   

“Can I also say thank you to everyone who entered, and also to Whitecroft Lighting who are tasked with turning Emilio’s winning design into a reality – I can’t wait to see it in position once the Martian House is open to the public.”

2nd place for MatteoMatteo's The Celestial Lamp (2nd place)

Tony Male, Regional Sales Manager at Whitecroft Lighting said: “Once we’d seen the values that underpin the Martian House project, we knew it was something we wanted to support and be part of.

“We saw such a strong synergy between the aims of this brave and thought provoking project, and Whitecroft Lighting’s approach to design, sustainability and product circularity.

“We also immediately connected with the need to balance science and humanity on Mars - and the desire to create a home that can sustain all aspects of a person’s wellbeing, be that physical or psychological.”

Tony continues: “We understand, from our 77 years’ experience in the lighting industry, that light and lighting is vital to how we live, work and feel, and the correct lighting even more so when you’re 34 million miles further away from the sun.

“Emillio’s winning lighting design not only fitted the Martin House environment, but added much needed visual artistic flair which will help people feel more at home on this far away, alien world.

“I’d also like to give a special ‘well done’ to the third place finisher Sam Hewitt. For a 14 year old to show such confidence and creativity is quite remarkable, you have a bright future in design Sam!

“It’s encouraging to see young people taking an interest in engineering and design, and Whitecroft is currently seeking to attract young apprentices to join the company to undertake lighting design, engineering and commercial apprenticeships.

Tony concludes: “The Whitecroft team are currently busy completing the installation of all our lighting concept in the Martian House, and we hope that visitors enjoy the end result when the attraction opens in July.”

Whitecroft Lighting had made sustainability and circularity into their business model, and in 2020 launched Cascade Flex, an alternative to the traditional LED lighting flat panel, thousands of which are fitted in the UK every year.

Cascade Flex is specifically designed to minimise the use of materials, particularly plastics, and made with a reusable central cartridge which can refurbished and reused multiple times.

The Martian House is due to open to the public for around five months in late July 2022.

To find out more about the project and how to visit, go to


Martian House Competition Winners

1st place – Emilio Hernandez - £250

£250 matched charity donation to St Georges Hospital for sick & premature babies

2nd place – Matteo Zagaglia, The Celestial Lamp - £150

£150 matched charity donation to  

3rd place – Sam Hewitt, Rocket - £100


*The Martian House in situ outside the M Shed Bristol visualisation by Pearce+

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