Arctic Research Facility / Polar Ants

  • 05 Mar 2012
  • by
  • Misc

Polar Ants, a collaboration between Lukasz Szlachcic, Anais Mikaelian, Laila Selim, Bita Mohamadi, shared with us their project, Arctic Research Facility which is an experimental, architectural project within the framework of the Design Research Lab at the Architectural Association. They propose a living architecture, and challenges the classical modernist notions of permanence and stability. The theme of this proposal, ‘materializing behavior’, necessitates an equally responsive environment. More images and the team’s description after the break.

Courtesy of

Architecture defines, articulates and mediates the relationship between a physical environment and inhabitation. The primary investigation of this project is to balance this relationship through a dynamic study of material behavior. As such, the project is located on the ice cap of the Arctic Ocean; an environment which exhibits harsh climatic conditions for human survival as well as constantly fluctuating physical surroundings.

As ice makes up the entire physical environment of the Arctic cap, different times of the year present vastly different ground conditions; namely various ice thicknesses, hardness and layering of the ice, topographical features and overall ice coverage. As these factors change over the course of the year so do all architectural and formal qualities associated with them.

Courtesy of Polar Ants

This project proposes an adaptable, mutable and contextual scientific research facility on the Arctic ice cap. The model for this research center is based on the nature of exploratory and cinematographic expeditions, the kind exemplified by a BBC series Human Planet. The duality of needs (investigation and documentation) necessitates an architecture which can accommodate two distinct working environments: one exterior and dynamic; and one interior and stable and controlled.

Any architectural intervention has to act as a bridge between these environments: facilitate in dangerous explorations while making habitation of the Arctic more feasible. The intervention challenges the basic assumptions of what an architectural demand for an Arctic expedition normally implies: a static and formally simplistic structure. In contrast, the resulting architecture is self-regulating, self-contained and autonomous.

Courtesy of Polar Ants

This project challenges vernacular ice architecture as non-adaptable and unresponsive to the landscape and environmental forces. Upon the decision of purely using on-site materials and at the same time challenging the igloo, this project aims to produce an architecture which has more than an additive logic. As such, this project proposes the idea of “burrowing architecture”, which is a subtractive methodology.

Team Polar Ants: Lukasz Szlachcic, Anais Mikaelian, Laila Selim, Bita Mohamadi

Cite: Furuto, Alison. "Arctic Research Facility / Polar Ants" 05 Mar 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Dec 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=213783>