I have great respect for scientists who work in the field, rather than a laboratory. Not only is their work slightly more relevant, because it happens in the real world, it’s conducted in what are often extremely harsh living conditions. Like Antarctica.
While it would be a fascinating place to visit, especially on a luxury safari like this on offered by Epic Road, there’s no amount of money you could pay me to spend months at a time on the planet’s “coldest, driest, and windiest continent.” But scientists have to. Luckily for the researchers stationed at the Bharathi Indian Polar Station, the assignment comes with a sturdy, warm place to hunker down for the night–and it’s made from shipping containers.
Commissioned by India’s National Center For Antarctic And Ocean Research and designed by Hamburg-based BOF Architekten, the new station is located Larsmann Hills section of northeast Antarctica. The treaty that governs international research stations on the continent stipulate that the structure must have the ability to be completely disassembled and removed from the frigid landscape without leaving a trace, so the designers immediate turned to shipping containers as their building medium.
Built on stilts, the Bharathi Polar Station has three floors, comprised of 134 shipping containers. The containers, which were prefabricated in Germany, are interlocked and covered by an insulated skin and outer shell.
“The third floor features a terrace and air-conditioning system, while the second floor houses the residential quarters, with 24 single and double rooms, explains Gizmag. “Alongside these are a kitchen, dining room, library, fitness room, offices, lounge, and even an operating theater.” The bottom floor, presumably one of the coldest, is where you’ll find the laboratories, storage areas, assorted technical spaces, and workshop.
Speaking of cold, it’s no easy feat to keep a shipping container research station comfortable in the Arctic winter. At present the station uses three Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units, fuled by kerosene, to generate heat and power. However, BOF Artchitekten told Gizmag that “wind power is also being considered as a possible future addition, but solar power was ruled out due to the long Antarctic winter’s dearth of sunlight.”