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Ice Lab Opens

Installation View. Photo: McAteer Photography

Installation View. Photo: McAteer Photography
Installation View. Photo: McAteer Photography

Installation View. Photo: McAteer Photography
Installation View. Photo: McAteer Photography

Installation View. Photo: McAteer Photography
Installation View. Photo: McAteer Photography

Installation View. Photo: McAteer Photography

25 July 2013
by Ellie Smith

We are pleased to share these installation shots of Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica which opens this evening at The Lighthouse. Commissioned by the British Council and curated by the Arts Catalyst, Ice Lab is a new international touring exhibition that illustrates how innovative contemporary architecture is enabling scientists to live and work in one of the most extreme environments on our planet.


The exhibition features five imaginative designs for Antarctic research stations from the newly opened British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI Research station to the speculative Iceberg Living Station. Ice Lab was designed by We Made That with graphic design by OK-RM and gives visitors a unique view of the inspiration, ingenuity and creativity behind architecture in the coldest, windiest, driest and most isolated place on earth.


The first exhibition of its kind, Ice Lab includes architectural drawings, models, photographs and films that give the visitor a sense of what it takes to live and work in Antarctica. Sources of inspiration for the projects including original drawings from Archigram’s ‘Walking City’ are on display as well as a newly commissioned light and audio work by international visual artist Torsten Lauschmann. The Glasgow-based artist has created this work in collaboration with ‘We Made That’, the exhibition’s designers.


Ice Lab highlights the diverse and cutting edge science that takes place on the frozen continent: from collecting 4.5 billion year old meteorites that illuminate how the solar system was formed to drilling ice cores whose bubbles of ancient air reveal the earth’s climate history; from cutting edge astronomy amongst the world’s clearest skies to studying its Dry Valleys - the closest thing to ‘Mars on Earth’.


The featured projects are:

British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI The first fully relocatable polar research station in the world became fully operational in February 2013 and signals a new dawn for 21st Century polar research. Opening 100 years after Captain Scott’s famed Antarctic expeditions, this new state of the art facility, designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and engineered by AECOM (UK) fulfils the UK’s ambition to remain at the forefront of scientific endeavour. Located 10,000 miles from the UK on a floating ice shelf, the new station is designed to be self-sufficient, able to withstand freezing winter temperatures of minus 55ºC, have minimal impact on Antarctica’s pristine environment, and be an aesthetically stimulating place to live and work.

Princess Elisabeth Antarctica Conceived, designed, constructed and operated by the International Polar Foundation (Belgium), Princess Elisabeth is Antarctica's first zero-emission station. Perched on a nunatuk, 200km from the coast, at an altitude of 1400m, the aerodynamic stainless steel structure can withstand strong Antarctic wind, and is layered so that no form of interior heating is needed. The station seamlessly integrates renewable wind and solar energy, water treatment facilities, passive building technologies and a smart grid for maximising energy efficiency.



Bharati Research Station India’s third Antarctic research station by bof Architekten / IMS (Germany) is a striking modernist structure made from 134 prefabricated shipping containers. Wrapped in a special aluminium case its extensive glazing offers magnificent panoramic views whilst withstanding powerful winds, below 40 degree Celsius temperatures, blizzards and unfathomable loads.


Jang Bogo Korea is becoming a significant player in Antarctic research and Jang Bogo, by Space Group (South Korea), will be one of the largest year-round bases on the continent when it opens in 2014. The station’s aerodynamic triple-arm design will provide resistance to the elements and accommodate up to 60 personnel during the busy summer season.


Iceberg Living Station A speculative design by David A. Garcia / MAP Architects (Denmark) for a future research station made entirely from ice, Iceberg Living Station negates the need to transport foreign materials to Antarctica. The station will be holed out of a large iceberg, using caterpillar excavators that are traditionally used to clear snow. It will eventually melt, resolving the issue of removing it at the end of its life course.



Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica is at Architecture and Design Scotland at The Lighthouse, 26 July – 2 Oct 2013 and then at MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry) as part of Manchester Science Festival, 21 October - 6 January before touring internationally. The e-book is available to download here.




British Council Project