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Winning design chosen for Brazil's new Antarctic base


May 5, 2013

Estúdio 41 has won the bid to design the new Brazilian base in Antarctica which will replace the one destroyed by a fire in 2012

Estúdio 41 has won the bid to design the new Brazilian base in Antarctica which will replace the one destroyed by a fire in 2012

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In February 2012 the Brazilian research base in Antarctica was almost entirely destroyed by a fire caused by an overflowing of the fuel tanks that fed the generator. Two people died and the operation suffered a financial loss of R$25m (US$12.4million). Fast forward to 2013 and the future looks much brighter for Estação Antártica Comandante Ferraz, as the station is officially called.

The winning proposal for the new Ferraz Antarctic station was announced by the Brazilian navy at a recent event in Rio de Janeiro. The commission for the R$105m ($52.3 million) complex went to Estúdio 41, a Curitiba-based design practice, which won R$100,000 (US$49,700) as part of the competition.

“The project is in the preliminary study stage and the complete executive version is due to be completed at the end of the year,” Estúdio 41 architect Eron Costin told Gizmag. It is hoped the new station will be ready to operate by March 2015.

The architects prioritized function and spatial distribution when conceiving the new building that spreads over 3,200 m² (34,445 ft²) and can accommodate 64 people in the summer and 34 in the winter. One block on the top level houses balconies, service areas and living/dining areas. A lower block is annexed to the labs, maintenance and operation areas, while a traverse block is reserved for social interaction and includes an auditorium, internet café, conference, video room and library. A separate heliport, garage and fuel tanks are also incorporated into the plan.

The design takes into account the challenge of extreme weather conditions and aims to minimize environmental impact and respect local fauna and flora, while adapting to the topography of the building site on the Keller Peninsula.

The buildings will be built on adjustable pillars so they can adapt to the variations caused by temperature fluctuations and defrosting. The station will be powered by burning ethanol in addition to an array of photovoltaic solar panels atop the north end of the building and vertical axis wind turbines to the southwest. Systems for treating and reusing waste water onsite are also included in the design.

“The project features a beautiful formal composition that favors horizontality and is strengthened by the rhythm of the support structures. It offers good spatial organization, specialized sectors and smart use of space,” said jury member Flávio Ferreira during the announcement in Rio.

Source: Estúdio 41, IAB (Portuguese)

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology. All articles by Antonio Pasolini

Australian, When it's -40 outside you can't chance intermittent power sources. artic short solar days. as for ethanol, wiki "Brazil is the world's second largest producer of ethanol fuel, and until 2010, the world's largest exporter."

Tom Swift

Yes, but will it withstand attack from morphing physiology alien species??


Can anyone explain the logic of burning ethnol? Could not the wind and solar power be enough for heating purposes? Is it meant to be a base-load power source? I find these stories fascinating as it really represents extreme frontier living for humans. The only place people currently live that would be more extreme is the ISS.


re; Australian

In winter there is no sunlight, and if the wind decides not to blow for a while it would get cold fast.


"Could not the wind and solar power be enough for heating purposes? Is it meant to be a base-load power source? "

They'd be better off starting with renewables with ethanol for the backup: ethanol FREEZES.

Solar cells would perform quite well half the year, and wind ?

It blows at night too.

The energy from the renewables would be REAL handy to keep the ethanol tank from freezing.

William Carr

The bio/human waste generated on site releases methanol and other organics. So why not use those carbon sources productively and capture the CO2 for greenhouse use?


Ethanol freezes at -114C http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol

The coldest temperature ever is likely to be about -93C http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowest_temperature_recorded_on_Earth

Therefore ethanol is a good choice for fuel. Much better than Diesel which freezes at much higher temperatures. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter_diesel_fuel

In a life critical situation like this relying on the wind blowing is dangerous, and assuming human waste will be sufficient is such an extreme environment is also dangerous. Using a renewable biofuel like ethanol is excellent!

Christopher Gillie
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