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How do you build in the most isolated place on Earth? For decades Antarctica – the only continent with no indigenous population – hosted only the simplest huts as human shelters. But, as Matthew Teller finds out, architecture in the coldest, driest, windiest reaches of our planet is getting snazzier.
It’s an eye-popping, futuristic design – a dark, sleek building, low and long, that is destined to be a temporary waterfront home for up to 65 people at a time.
The price tag is a hefty $100m (£80m). And while a Chinese company is building it, it’s not in China, and almost no-one will ever see it.
Welcome to Brazil‘s Comandante Ferraz Antarctic research station.
After the original burned down in 2012, the Brazilian navy launched an architectural competition for a replacement design – won by a local firm – and then awarded the building tender to a Chinese defence and engineering contractor, CEIEC. It’s due to be completed in 2021.
Located on a small island just off the coast of Antarctica, it lies almost 1,000km (600 miles) south of the tip of South America. No scheduled air routes come close and it’s way off any shipping lanes.
And even if you could reach it yourself, like all Antarctic research stations Comandante Ferraz will be closed to the public. Virtually nobody other than the crews posted there will ever see it in the flesh. So why, you may ask, spend so much on architectural style? Wouldn’t a dull but functional building do just as well? […]