Arctic Research Facility \ Polar Ants

• March 3, 2012

A team of four by Polar Ants (Lukasz Szlachcic, Anais Mikaelian, Laila Selim, Bita Mohamadi), having just finished an experimental, architectural project within the framework of the Design Research Lab at the Architectural Association.

polar ants02 600x425 Arctic Research Facility \ Polar Ants

Courtesy Polar Ants

The statement

Architecture defines, articulates and mediates the relationship between a physical environment and inhabitation. The primary investigation of this project is to balance this relationship through a dynamic study of material behavior. This project therefore proposes a living architecture, and challenges the classical modernist notions of permanence and stability. The theme of this proposal necessitates an equally responsive environment. As such, the project is located on the ice cap of the Arctic Ocean; an environment which exhibits harsh climatic conditions for human survival as well as constantly fluctuating physical surroundings. As ice makes up the entire physical environment of the Arctic cap, different times of the year present vastly different ground conditions; namely various ice thicknesses, hardness and layering of the ice, topographical features and overall ice coverage. As these factors change over the course of the year so do all architectural and formal qualities associated with them.

polar ants03 600x425 Arctic Research Facility \ Polar Ants

Courtesy Polar Ants

This project proposes an adaptable, mutable and contextual scientific research facility on the Arctic ice cap. The model for this research centre is based on the nature of exploratory and cinematographic expeditions, the kind exemplified by a BBC series Human Planet. The duality of needs (investigation and documentation) necessitates an architecture which can accommodate two distinct working environments: one exterior and dynamic; and one interior and stable and controlled. Any architectural intervention has to act as a bridge between these environments: facilitate in dangerous explorations while making habitation of the Arctic more feasible. The intervention challenges the basic assumptions of what an architectural demand for an Arctic expedition normally implies: a static and formally simplistic structure. In contrast, the resulting architecture is self-regulating, self-contained and autonomous.

polar ants06 600x218 Arctic Research Facility \ Polar Ants

Courtesy Polar Ants

This project challenges vernacular ice architecture as non-adaptable and unresponsive to the landscape and environmental forces. Upon the decision of purely using on-site materials and at the same time challenging the igloo, this project aims to produce an architecture which has more than an additive logic. As such, this project proposes the idea of “burrowing architecture”, which is a subtractive methodology.

polar ants08 600x425 Arctic Research Facility \ Polar Ants

Courtesy Polar Ants

In addition I am attaching a few images. Also, since the project methodology was primarily simulation and time based, the following are some links to videos associated with project.

+ Project facts

Team Name: Polar Ants
Project: Arctic Research Facility
Theme: Materializing Behavior

For more information and a full catalogue of images and videos please visit the project website:

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Category: Landscape, Master Plan

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