India’s National Center For Antarctic And Ocean Research has built its third research center in Antarctica, this time on the northeast side of the continent, and made out of 134 repurposed shipping containers.
The 27,000 square foot Bharathi Antarctic Research Center was designed by Hamburg’s architecture firm Bof Architekten to withstand the arctic climate and be self-sufficient. To abide by the Antarctic Treaty System, the facility had to meet several requirements, including self-sustainability and the ability to be disassembled and removed to leave no effectual damage to the area. Shipping containers were chosen as an excellent source of compliance by providing easily transported units that lend the necessary protection from the elements.
The shipping containers are insulated by aerodynamic aluminum panels that protect the researchers from the extreme environment that envelopes them. The structure has been built to withstand blizzards, winds that gust up to 200 mph, and temperatures that plummet to nearly a hundred degrees below freezing. Besides research laboratories, the structure also houses a kitchen, library, fitness room, an operating theater and enough beds to sleep 47 people.
Bharathi supplies its own energy using a kerosene-fueled Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit, and has two more for backup. The CHP unit produces electricity and generates heat as a byproduct, which is used to warm the building year-round. The design team is also considering adding wind power, but has ruled out solar power due to the long, dark Antarctic winters. The facility also has its own fresh water treatment system.
It is theorized that hundreds of millions of years ago, India used to share a border with Antarctica due to continental drift. India’s ambition for this facility is to investigate this theory by comparing Indian rocks with the glacial minerals near the Larsemann Hills of Antarctica.