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Extreme conditions Swiss architect makes a mark in Antarctica

What does an Antarctic architect do? Easy: he designs buildings suitable for the South Pole. Not regular houses, but facilities equipped for scientific research.

London-based Swiss architect Gianluca Rendina is one of the few architects in the world who are experts in “buildings” capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and icy, furious winds.

His first project was the British research station Halley VI of the British Antarctic Survey, reserved for scientists studying the Earth’s magnetic fields. Scientists who, because of the very low temperatures (-60°C, -76°F) and winds of over 150km/h (93mph), are forced to live there for 18 months without hardly ever being able to go outside.

Claudio Rendina con il modellino della stazione Antartica

Rendina's projects are followed very closely by NASA and the European Space Agency.


A truly futuristic Antarctic base, a sort of “centipede” formed by seven blue modules (or houses) connected to a central, red, larger building. All these buildings rest on giant skis and can be raised and moved elsewhere if the movement of the ice creates some danger or the climatic conditions become too dangerous. Nothing like this has ever been done in Antarctica.

Rendina, one of the directors of the Hugh Broughton design studio, is now taking his visions to new frontiers: ice and space.

He is working on a scientific polar station in New Zealand, one in Spain and another in Britain.

But above all, he is part of the team that, in collaboration with NASA, is studying extreme housing solutions for a possible future mission to Mars.


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