How Antarctic bases went from wooden huts to sci-fi chic

How do you build in the most isolated place on Earth? For decades Antarctica – the only continent with no indigenous population – hosted only the simplest huts as human shelters. But, as Matthew Teller finds out, architecture in the coldest, driest, windiest reaches of our planet is getting snazzier.

It’s an eye-popping, futuristic design – a dark, sleek building, low and long, that is destined to be a temporary waterfront home for up to 65 people at a time.

The price tag isa hefty $100m (£80m). And while a Chinese company is building it, it’s not in China, and almost no-one will ever see it.

Located on a small island just off the coast of Antarctica, it lies almost 1,000km (600 miles) south of the tip of South America. No scheduled air routes come close and it’s way off any shipping lanes.

And even if you could reach it yourself, like all Antarctic research stations Comandante Ferraz will be closed to the public. Virtually nobody other than the crews posted there will ever see it in the flesh. So why, you may ask, spend so much on architectural style? Wouldn’t a dull but functional building do just as well?

Brazil is not alone in paying for eye-catching design, though.

In 2013, India unveiled its Bharati station, with a similar modernist design.

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