A new building in Antarctica breaks ground at the Rothera Research Station. Designed by Hugh Broughton Architects, the project commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), aims to facilitate the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) ongoing climate-related research.
Architecture from Antarctica
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Construction Works Begin on Hugh Broughton's Discovery Building at Rothera Research Station in Antarctica
In 1773, James Cook circumnavigated Antarctica, representing humankind’s first known encounter with the continent. Ever since, Antarctica has been a vast, formidable, yet curious 14 million kilometer landscape, which explorers, scientists and governments have sought to understand and exploit. Given the harsh realities of building on the continent, aesthetics and architectural creativity have remained an afterthought in Antarctic settlements up until recent years. Today, however, the architectural scene is heating up.
McMurdo Station, the American Antarctic base, was never meant to be a permanent settlement when it was built in 1956, yet today it is home to 250 people full-time in addition to approximately 1,000 summer workers each year. Consisting now of over 100 buildings spread across 164 acres, the settlement acts as a logistical base for field science but is dysfunctional for the scientists and researchers who live and work there and inefficient in terms of meeting the demands of Antarctica’s harsh climate. OZ Architecture has recently unveiled a new master plan for McMurdo that aims to turn the station into a model of American leadership in science, engineering, sustainability, and architecture, condensing the current sprawl into a 300,000 square foot campus composed of 6 buildings.
This year, as the first continent ever to be represented at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Antarctica will bring together leading international architects and artists to explore present and future models of living in the South Polar region. The exhibition, Antarctopia will feature projects and ideas by participants, such as Hugh Broughton, Juergen Mayer H. and Zaha Hadid.
In order to illustrate the ingeniuity and innovation of contemporaray architecture, the British Council and curated by the Arts Catalyst, Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica has declared an open call for an international touring exhibition that will feature architecture of Antarctica. With one of the most extreme and desolate environments on the planet, the facilities must be laboratories and residences for scientists working in this distant terrain. The exhibition will feature five designs for Antarctica research stations: British Antarctic Survey's Halley VI by Hugh Broughton Architects; Princess Elisabeth Antarctic by International Polar Foundation; Bharati Research Station by bof Architekten / IMS; Jang Bogo Korea by Space Group; and the Iceberg Living Station by MAP Architects.
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