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  3. Zaha Hadid's Student Envisions an Antarctic Port For Tourism and Research

Zaha Hadid's Student Envisions an Antarctic Port For Tourism and Research

Zaha Hadid's Student Envisions an Antarctic Port For Tourism and Research
Zaha Hadid's Student Envisions an Antarctic Port For Tourism and Research, Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop
Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop

Antarctic icebergs morph into a sprawling multi-functional hub for research, transport and accommodation in one of the latest projects to come out of Zaha Hadid's Studio at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Designed by architecture student Sergiu-Radu Pop, the project hypothesizes a point of arrival for the world's final frontier of development. The project employs biomimicry as a primary design tool, replicating the jagged asymmetrical edges of ice formations along the coast of the southern ocean. 

Enter the Transformable Antarctic Research Facility with more photos and info after the break

Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop +17

Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop
Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop

The facility is unmistakably influenced by Hadid's soaring structures, recalling her previous nautical work on super yachts. The building snakes out of the water, ascending the face of the ice-covered continent and soars skyward with a tower clad in glass. Giant white steel webs weave above the open decks of the public facility, harmonizing with the rough Antarctic terrain. The asymmetry of the building echoes the landscape while remaining distinctly man-made in its incorporation of commercial elements for use by the public and researchers alike. 

Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop
Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop

The structure has two distinct programs: quiet pensive spaces devoted to Antarctic research, and vast open public spaces devoted to the expanding sector of environmental tourism. The building is nestled into the rugged coastline, providing ample opportunities for effective research, while simultaneously offering a natural connection to guests. The ambitious program for the building includes temporary and permanent accommodation, public exhibition space, leisure and exercise spaces, conference halls, observation decks, docking stations for additional boats, and helipads and runways. 

Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop
Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop

Design for the Transformable Antarctic Research Facility incorporates a horizontal component over water with an additional tower built into the uneven coastal ice of Antarctica. The two components are designed to maximize the opportunities for construction on the icy continent while accounting for the unpredictable weather conditions of the southern pole. Mutability is key in the dynamic facility due to the experimental nature of its location - the building is capable of withstanding changes to its frozen foundation while continuing its normal function. 

Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop
Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop

Project designer Sergiu-Radu Pop placed a major emphasis on the improvement of research facilities which traditionally offer a compromise on quality of life for researchers in favour of more work space. Pop argues the research is hindered by inadequate personal space for researchers, and instead designed a multi-functional hub and micro-community for research to take place amongst a host of vibrant activities. Pop combined research with experimental tourism to provide an unparalleled experience where the public can explore the landscape as scientists, contributing to the dialogue on Antarctic research.

Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop
Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop

The student project was created at Studio Hadid Vienna, Zaha Hadid's teaching studio at the Institute of Architecture, University of Applied Arts Vienna. The project belongs to Hadid's larger interest in Antarctic development as exhibited at this year's Venice Biennale. Find out more about Studio Hadid Vienna on their website.

Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop
Courtesy of Sergiu-Radu Pop
Cite: Finn MacLeod. "Zaha Hadid's Student Envisions an Antarctic Port For Tourism and Research" 25 Sep 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


David · April 29, 2016

Is this some kind of joke?? Why is this getting attention? I find this really frustrating to see. The student is obviously delusional and doesn't know the first thing about building in cold climates.

Denys Ostapenko · April 24, 2016

hey guys, could someone tell me a possible structural system for this building? it's for my grad. thx!

Eugenio Laponte · April 23, 2016

Never been a fan of Zaha and her architecture. Her death really saddened me anyways, but i gotta admit i hoped for this spaceship-shaped bollocks to stop... delusional..

Sir David Attenborough · November 04, 2014

Scientific research is disproportionately underfunded as it is. Expecting this monstrosity or anything close to it to be a good idea, and then procuring the funding for it would require a fundamental misunderstanding and ignorance of the most basic scientific principles and ideas.

sick renders tho

Haha Zadid · October 01, 2014

Mass Effect did it first. haha. Sorry if you guys can't relate. Its from a game

milk · September 30, 2014

hope no one will ever build this.
as a sculpture we can say it's an art, however you can't find any diversity in all this projects, they look absolutely the same.
when it comes to the area, that building in Antarctic? it's not even funny as a joke. absolutely unique area to which the project is'n an answer for sure. it's just the selfish degradation of the environment.

Neelix · September 29, 2014

Du grand n'importe quoi ! avec 3dsMax

Tim · September 26, 2014

Why couldn't the brief have just been - Residence for maniacal bond villain?

Alec Trevelyan · September 26, 2014 06:24 PM

Yes this would have been a terrific place to take down James Bond.

Mars · September 26, 2014

Archdaily, if you can published this, how about publishing all of the infinitely better work students are doing all around the world... or do they have to be a Hadid student to earn that privilege.

Lindsay · September 26, 2014

I love the femininity of Hadid's oeuvre. The flowering of her style has created this beautiful, vaginal edifice that lovingly cradles its occupant in a hostile environment.

Man · September 30, 2014 09:21 AM

I cannot stop laughing... I mean, yes, it is true. It is a fact that this architecture comes from that universe of shapes. Imagine all this working time invested on thinking about Africa's insane development...

Tung Cab · September 26, 2014

Nya-ha-ha-ha! The Fortress of Solitude is more functional that this Wrapped corn on a cob!!!

Derek · September 26, 2014

I like how archdaily posted this.. Should do more of it so we can rip it to pieces. Everything that has ever come out of Zaha's studio look similar and better suited for hollywood than reality. If I were this designer, I'd quit architecture after reading all the comments in here xD

Gardz · September 26, 2014

This is a waste of time. Zaha does great work, but her student work is misguided plagiarism. I did better projects as a student: more interesting, innovative, feasible, attractive. More Hugh Brougton please.

Rb · April 23, 2016 05:18 PM

Didnt knew about Hugh Broughton, thanks for mencioning him

Bingchi · September 26, 2014

Envision or delusion? Please use words carefully.

oniu · September 26, 2014

shocking picture, joking architecture

Shawn · September 26, 2014

This is heinously idiotic on almost every conceivable level.

mvb · September 26, 2014

From my point of view, this project is just an exercise of free form without any real constraint. The designer has good skills in 3d software, that's for sure, but I wonder why that form makes a research center better than others given the harsh and unique conditions in Antarctica.
I really miss a smarter approach to this kind of infrastructures, otherwise, otherwise design becomes banal.

Jeromy Clements · September 26, 2014

Biomimicry isn't just making structures look like nature. It is the referencing of nature's advantageous qualities. If there were some benefit to be gained by a jagged asymmetrical form as it pertains to ice formations, then I could understand the reference. However, it seems purely aesthetic. I urge architects to use the correct language when describing their work.

John Delaney · September 26, 2014 12:54 AM

I would argue that it's "Geomimicry" - the prefix "bio" means "life," to which this project has given the middle finger.

Daniel Scott · September 25, 2014

This is an incredible project ! Not only judging by it's looks but also the program that stands behind this entire concept! Exactly , Concept if you guys know what that means!I see allot of haters here not sure because of their small "stadiums" or just because they face the fact that people are aware that we are not living in a "square " world ...and nowhere in this universe you will see optimised shapes as squares .Regardless if he is or not a student of Zaha Hadid , the fact is , that this project is amazing and you should probably do a bit more research on this project and you will find out that is not just a super good CG job. ! Wish you all the best! Haters gonna Hate !

ysck · September 26, 2014 10:57 AM

If this is the theoretical argument for why we need such architecture, then it really does not deserve criticism.

John Delaney · September 26, 2014 12:53 AM

Architecture isn't just an art form. It's a social science. A building's identity isn't as important as its function and contribution to the welfare of people and the environment.

Jeromy Clements · September 26, 2014 12:40 AM

It is a beautiful concept and program, but the fact is that the glaciers are melting and no amount of architecture can solve this problem. I would point this brilliant student in the direction of some land. ;-)

Minsung Woo · September 25, 2014 11:03 PM

I've looked over the program, and while it is undoubtedly impressive, there are a number of functional flaws in which the program digresses significantly from the real needs of Antarctic researchers.
As for your statement about humanity not residing in a 'square' world, you are right. However, time has proven that regularly shaped buildings are better than these sweeping, highly angular or curvilinear forms. Should I mention the Vitra Fire Station?

Fernando Puyana · September 25, 2014

Cool looking....for the next starwars trilogy...another student possessed by which ever 3d software is in fashion now. So sad this is what architecture is turning into. Not a science and art to improve human condition but a competition of who has the biggest....or the biggest "stadium"....

Fernando Puyana · September 25, 2014

Cool looking....for the next starwars trilogy...another student possessed by which ever 3d software is in fashion now. So sad this is what architecture is turning into. Not a science and art to improve human condition but a competition of who has the biggest....or stadium....

Minsung Woo · September 25, 2014

This is a joke, right? I mean, the designer at least looked up Antarctica and the research done there on Wikipedia, right? I'm curious how the project "is capable of withstanding changes to its frozen foundation" especially since said foundation will be receding and proceeding miles at a time depending on the season. Also, I'm curious at how the designer solved the issue of the scientists needing to be much farther inland on the continent than the coast in order to conduct their research.

In all seriousness, architecture is more than pretty images. It is the nexus of people and machine, of form and function, of practicality and beauty. I'm all for dreaming, but even dreams should have a small basis in reality.

Kevin · September 25, 2014 09:39 PM

I spent three years in architecture school before switching out and I never began to understand these types of designs.

John Delaney · September 25, 2014

Antarctic tourism only contributes to the systematic destruction of valuable habitats for local wildlife...the whole concept of human development in the arctic requires hubris and is an anathema to assume the general (extremely wealthy) public would travel as amateur scientists is my opinion Zaha should not be sending this message to students

oldschool · September 25, 2014

Great images, but really, doesn't anyone think that this stuff is all beginning to look the same now? Zaha's student? Shocking...

The entire premise is pretty funny... So, this is for massive project is supposed to be used for "environmental tourism"... yeah, I am sure Greenpeace would love this being built in the Antartic...

ahhhh... to be a student again...

Heywood Floyd · September 25, 2014

Finally, a locale in which a Zaha building can be construed as contextual!

kamil kibar · September 25, 2014

"Resistance is futile". This is what the female cyborg says in one of star trek movies in which the Borg assimilates men into cyborgs. Such renderings remind me such movies, I do not know why.


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