The winds can gust up to 160 kilometres an hour and the temperature can fall to minus 55 degrees Celsius. Talk about designing for a hostile environment. Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica, currently on display at The Lighthouse in Glasgow, presents five unique solutions to living and working in Antarctica. The exhibition profiles four new international polar research stations, and one speculative one, through architectural drawings, models and photographs.
Inspired by Archigram’s 1964 “Walking City” idea, Britain’s Halley VI is the world’s first relocatable polar research station. The station is comprised of interlinked modules clad in glass-reinforced plastic – the central red module is the unit’s social centre containing, among other things, a lounge bar and a hydroponic garden – and looks like a freight train on stilts. Earlier British units were either crushed or buried in snow, after the crew had moved out thankfully, so architect Hugh Broughton designed this one to sit above the ground on hydraulic ski-based legs enabling it to move out of harm’s way should the occasion arise. Like Archigram’s conceptual robotic, self-propelled communities that could relocate in search of resources, this self-contained community can waddle off for safer ground, not on its own mind you but pulled by bulldozers. Watch the video to see Halley VI being built.
Belgium’s aerodynamic stainless steel structure is Antarctica’s first zero-emission station utilizing wind and solar technology (remember, this is the place where winds can reach up to 160 kilometres an hour), water treatment facilities, passive building technologies and a smart grid for maximizing energy efficiency.
India’s polar station is comprised of 134 shipping containers wrapped in aluminium cladding.
Korea’s triple-arm design is scheduled to open in 2014 while Denmark’s contribution, a speculative design fromMAP Associates calls for the ultimate in polar DIY. Huge excavators will carve holes out of the ice creating a series of habitable chambers connected by passageways. The idea is purely speculative at this point but its appeal lies in the fact that it doesn’t require importing building materials and will simply melt away after years of use. It’s called, appropriately enough, the Iceberg Living Station. Better make that the Recyclable Iceberg Living Station.
Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica moves to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry in late October