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    Antarctic Architecture

    by Maijinn Chen

    "It was a scene, terrible in its austerity, that can only be witnessed at that extremity of the globe; truly, a land of unsurpassed desolation." Physicist Louis Bernacchi, 1899, aboard the Southern Cross, near Cape Adare, Antarctica.

    Descriptions such as this permeate Antarctic exploration literature. They speak of an extreme environment far removed from the daily norm and largely unknown to most architects those professional shapers of human habitation who have been largely absent in the engineering of South Pole habitats.

    Architects are getting newly involved in designing the research stations where scientists work year round studying space, the upper atmosphere, Earth's weather patterns, and planetary history. As the small scientific community grows in size and increases its length of stay, more design attention is going toward the inhabitants' physical and psychological comfort. In turn, architects are learning about essential aspects of habitability that are often taken for granted.

    Several design and building efforts are now underway in Antarctica. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is expanding and modernizing the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, located about 350 miles (560 kilometers) from the geographic South Pole. Designed by Ferraro Choi and Associates of Honolulu, the facility, due to be finished in 2007, will accommodate 150 people in the summer and 50 in the winter.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    One of the competition design proposals for the U.K. Halley VI research station in Antarctica.
    Image: Hugh Broughton Architects

    ArchWeek Image

    Interior of the FaberMaunsell/Broughton central module, showing the double-height space and the hydroponics chamber. Inset: the module's exterior with the Kalwall system and the "cockpit lounges."
    Image: Hugh Broughton Architects

     

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