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)

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