Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica

  • 18 Jun 2013
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  • Architecture News mini
Halley VI © A.Dubber, British Antarctic Survey

In order to illustrate how the ingenuity and innovation of contemporary architecture is enabling scientists to live and work in one of the most extreme environments on our planet, the British Council has commissioned curators from the Arts Catalyst to launch a new international touring titled Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica.

The first exhibition of its kind, Ice Lab will include architectural drawings, models, photographs, and films allowing for visitors to not only examine the architecture, but the life of these scientists in these research facilities. Sources of inspiration for the projects including original drawings from Archigram’s ‘Walking City’ will be on display alongside a new commissioned light and audio work by international visual artist Torsten Laushmann. The Glasgow-based artist will create this work in collaboration with ‘We Made That’, the exhibition’s designers.

The featured projects are:

British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI: The first fully relocatable polar research station in the world became fully operational in February 2013 and signals a new dawn for 21st Century polar research. Opening 100 years after Captain Scott’s famed Antarctic expeditions, this new state of the art facility, designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and engineered by AECOM (UK) fulfills the UK’s ambition to remain at the forefront of scientific endeavor. Located 10,000 miles from the UK on a floating ice shelf, the new station is designed to be self-sufficient, able to withstand freezing winter temperatures of minus 55ºC, have minimal impact on Antarctica’s pristine environment, and be an aesthetically stimulating place to live and work.

Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Research Station © René Robert – International Polar Foundation

Princess Elisabeth Antarctic: Conceived, designed, constructed and operated by the International Polar Foundation (Belgium), Princess Elisabeth is Antarctica’s first zero-emission station. Perched on a nunatuk, 200km from the coast, at an altitude of 1400m, the aerodynamic stainless steel structure can withstand strong Antarctic wind, and is layered so that no form of interior heating is needed. The station seamlessly integrates renewable wind and solar energy, water treatment facilities, passive building technologies and a smart grid for maximizing energy efficiency.

Bharati Research Station / bof Architekten / IMS © NCAOR (National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean)

Bharati Research Station: India’s third Antarctic research station by bof Architekten / IMS (Germany) is a striking modernist structure made from 134 prefabricated shipping containers. Wrapped in a special aluminum case its extensive glazing offers magnificent panoramic views whilst withstanding powerful winds, below 40 degree Celsius temperatures, blizzards and unfathomable loads.

Architect Impression: Jang Bogo / Space Group and KOPRI

Jang Bogo: Korea is becoming a significant player in Antarctic research and Jang Bogo, by Space Group (South Korea), will be one of the largest year-round bases on the continent when it opens in 2014. The station’s aerodynamic triple-arm design will provide resistance to the elements and accommodate up to 60 personnel during the busy summer season.

South Pole Section, Iceberg Living Station / MAP Architects © British Council Architecture Design Fashion

Iceberg Living Station: A speculative design by MAP Architects (Denmark) for a future research station made entirely from ice, Iceberg Living Station negates the need to transport foreign materials to Antarctica. The station will be holed out of a large iceberg, using caterpillar excavators that are traditionally used to clear snow. It will eventually melt, resolving the issue of removing it at the end of its life course.

The exhibition will debut at Architecture and Design Scotland, The Lighthouse in Glasgow from 26 July to 2 October 2013 before touring to Manchester Museum of Science & Industry (21 October – 6 January) and then internationally.

Click here for more information on Ice Lab.

Cite: Vinnitskaya, Irina. "Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica" 18 Jun 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • Scott Smith

    Wow, I’d love to see more stuff like this. Very interesting!