Wish You Were Here: Living on an Antarctic Research Station

by Owen James Burke


A penguin scoffs at India’s Bharathi Antarctic Research Station, which, while it may impress us, does not do so in the least for this penguin. (Photo via Curbed)

Apart from being the most inhospitable place in the world for humans, and conditions like icy grounds, unforgiving winds and frozen fingers make Antarctica less than ideal for architecture, too, but for the sake of a handful of polar research stations, a few scientists and architects have persevered.

India’s Bharathi Station is made from 134 prefab shipping containers and despite being rather large, can withstand high blizzard winds and freezing temperatures to 40 degrees fahrenheit below.


Above: The IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory, an astrophysical monitoring station which searches for exploding stars, gamma-ray bursts and other cataclysmic phenomena. (Photo: Emanuel Jacobi/NSF/IceCube South Pole Neutrino Observatory)

It looks a bit like something out of Star Wars, and in order to survive the harsh landscape and climate it has to, but as far as we know, real scientists do live there.


Ice Lab Haley VI (Photo: A. Dubber/British Antarctic Survey)

The Haley VI station, operated by the British Antarctic Survey, looks very otherworldly beneath the Southern Lights and is the first relocatable polar ice station and sits on a floating ice shelf.

Princess Elisabeth Antarctica, the first "Zero emission" polar research station in the mist at Utsteinen -Belare 2008-2009

(Photo by Rene Robert/International Polar Foundation)

Belgian’s Ice Lab, Princess Elizabeth (above), may be minimalistic in style, but it’s also Antarctica’s first zero-emission station, using layers of aerodynamic steel to trap internal heat. It’s also wind-powered.

Well, all said and done maybe you don’t want to live here, but at least you know you’d survive, if you had to.

Find out more about south pole architecture at Curbed — OJB

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