The Coolest Architecture on Earth Is in Antarctica
Representatives from Brazil’s scientific community and government will head to Antarctica this month to inaugurate its new Comandante Ferraz Research Station, which replaces a facility lost to fire in 2012. The two low-slung buildings, designed by Estudio 41, a Brazilian architecture firm, house laboratories, operational support and living quarters — and could be mistaken for an art museum or a boutique hotel.
“Brazil is a tropical country, so we were not used to these conditions,” said Emerson Vidigal, a principal at the firm.
“These conditions” include temperatures that drop below minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit and winds that reach 100 miles per hour.
Throughout the 20th century, architecture in Antarctica was a pragmatic and largely makeshift affair, focused on keeping the elements out and the occupants alive. In 1959, the Antarctic Treaty dedicated the continent to research. Since then scientists have come in growing numbers and with ever more complex needs. Construction in Antarctica, long the purview of engineers, is now attracting designer architects looking to bring aesthetics — as well as operational efficiency, durability and energy improvements — to the coldest neighborhood on Earth.
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