Adam Rozanski
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Vostok Station: Antarctic Research Base

Vostok Station was completed as my thesis project for my Masters of Architecture degree at Monash University, Melbourne. The project seeks to redesign and improve the living conditions at the coldest, driest and most geographically isolated place on our planet: The Vostok Antarctic Research Station in the heart of Antarctica. 

The project focuses on ways to deal with the effects of prolonged social isolation through intelligent design and treats Vostok Station as a means to the study the ways in which future colonisation and inhabitation of Mars and other far off planets may be possible. The project explores the role of architecture not as an aesthetic art form but as a practical means of survival and psychological wellbeing.

How can architecture improve the lives of those dealing with extreme isolation and weather conditions?

Vostok Station: Antarctic Research Base

Vostok Station was completed as my thesis project for my Masters of Architecture degree at Monash University, Melbourne. The project seeks to redesign and improve the living conditions at the coldest, driest and most geographically isolated place on our planet: The Vostok Antarctic Research Station in the heart of Antarctica. 

The project focuses on ways to deal with the effects of prolonged social isolation through intelligent design and treats Vostok Station as a means to the study the ways in which future colonisation and inhabitation of Mars and other far off planets may be possible. The project explores the role of architecture not as an aesthetic art form but as a practical means of survival and psychological wellbeing.

How can architecture improve the lives of those dealing with extreme isolation and weather conditions?


Geographical Location

The site of Vostok Station is a fascinating one. A decaying russian research base that rests above Antarctica's largest subglacial lake, separated by 4 vertical kilometers of ice. Not only does the site happen to have the coldest recorded temperature in history -89 Degrees C (-128 F) and be considered the driest place on earth, the lake itself has been sealed off from the external environment for millions of years, which means that if any life still exists in the lake, it has evolved separately to anything on earth today. Scientists what to know lurks in the depths, NASA does too, so to do so there are currently 2 ice-core drills that burrow deep into the ice sheet above the lake in an attempt to break through the surface.

All things considered Vostok Station is a prime research ground in all respects for testing colonisation and design for life on other planets.

Interesting note: Since this project was completed. Scientists have successfully bored several holes into the lake and determined through that the lake is teeming with 3500+ species. 


Existing Condition & Infrastructure


Inuit & Native Construction Techniques

Inuit natives have developed building techniques over thousands of years in order to survive and thrive in the unforgiving wilderness of the polar arctic. Any well designed research station in a similar environment will benefit from learning the secrets of inuit survival and adapting them for their required use.


Design Brief Overview

General Brief:

  • 25 people in summer

  • 13 people in winter

  • Additionally east camp (USA) to join with Vostok station

  • Recycling or repurpose of existing infrastructure

POPULATION CONSIDERATIONS:

  • 2 x Doctors/Psychologists

  • 15 (Summer)/ 10 (Winter) x scientists/researchers

  • 2 (Summer)/ 1 (Winter) x Chef

  • 2 x Maintenance engineers

  • 4 x Other personnel (Summer ONLY)

Precedents:

  • Comandante Ferraz Research Base

  • Halley VI Research Station

  • Concordia Research Station

  • Vostok Research Station

  • Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Sensory Considerations:

SMELL:  Scent (materials) - cedar panelling to mitigate sensory deprivation in Haley VI - herbs in hydroponics farm (basil, mint, etc)

SOUND: Sound beacon to allow researchers to find base in poor visibility.

 SIGHT: Natural light, aurora, colour, contrast in low visibility

TASTE: Hydroponics, food supplies, cooking facilities, chef (creative food)

TOUCH: Materials (carpet, wood), conductive heating, varying temperature profiles, dynamic spaces

Psychological & Physical Considerations:

  • Low oxygen Levels

  • Low moisture Levels

  • Joint and muscle soreness

  • Thermal comfort

  • Circadian rhythm

  • Overwintering isolation, darkness and whiteouts

  • Social isolation and antisocial behaviour

  • Active mind

  • Men & women proportions

  • Doctors (2 minimum in event of one doctor needing medical attention)

Program:

GENERAL:

  • Sheltered vehicle storage

  • Storage facility, subterranean

  • Ice-runway (radar)

  • Heat exchange

  • Dark colours to contrast against snow (especially in the case of whiteouts and heavy ice fogs)

WELLBEING:

  • Fresh food (hydroponics)

  • Physical fitness (gym)

  • Circadian chamber/lighting (sleep cycle)

  • Communal spaces (cafeteria, library, lounge, bar, games room, internet, cinema, instruments)

  • Health - infirmary (2 or more doctors)

  • Homely private space

RESEARCH:

  • Laboratories

  • Sheltered/mobile ice-core drill + storage (subterranean - 55 degrees constant)

  • Radio communications room/receiver

  • Meteorology/climatology observatory

  • Geomagnetic labs

  • Glaciological instrumentation

ENERGY:

  • Solar grid

  • Wind turbines

  • Ethanol Generator

  • Human effluent incinerator

COMMUNICATION:

  • Radio communication

  • Satellite communication (internet etc)

  • Station wireless network

  • Radar


Thesis Presentation Boards


Visualising Vostok Station's Future


Final Thought, Mars.