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Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station

Estúdio 41

King George Island, Keller Peninsula, Brazil

January 2020


Emerson Vidigal, Dario Durce, Eron Costin, Fabio Faria, João Gabriel Cordeiro, Martin Goic


Rui Furtado, Filipe Arteiro, Paulo Silva, Marco Carvalho, Raul Serafim, Maria da Luz Santiago, João Oliveira, Octávio Inácio, Stephan Heinlein, Pedro Huergo, Moacir Zancopé, Fernando Moleta, Felipe Santos, Alexandre Kenji, Rafael Fischer


Brazilian Navy - CIRM - PROANTAR - Contra Almirante Marco Antonio Linhares Soares


Leonardo Finotti


Alongside topographic considerations, the linear configuration reflects two key design parameters: transportation logistics and on-site assembly – two well-known challenging factors in Antarctica. Shipping the prefabricated systems from the pre-assembly lines to Antarctica is easiest when using 6m long containers, which have the additional advantage of improving on site assembly and accelerating construction speed – both essential if one considers that construction can only be executed during Summer time.
The modular construction logic based in containers cladded with a complex wrapper are supported above the ground by metallic structure anchored on shallow foundations. In morphologic terms, the building is configured as an extrusion of its cross-section based on three main design premises: thermodynamics, aerodynamics and landscape views. Mostly elevated from the soil to improve thermodynamic performance and facilitate snow sweeping by the wind, the main are cladded with an aerodynamic wrapper which reduce the horizontal forces at foundation level and on the steel structure. Given the topographic uphill, the West block is lifted in relation to the East block to address psychological well-being issues and guarantee to the transient inhabitants of the station views to the Antarctic landscape in all spaces of permanence.
Dispersed on the site at a maximum distance to the main station of 3,5 Km are the Ferraz Remote Units. Due to the weather instability and the researchers’ transit in remote areas of the Keller Peninsula, two refuges are loaded with water, food and medicines. In addition to these there are: laboratories, logistic pavilions and small hardware storages.


On February 25th, 2012, a fire destroyed 90% of the former Brazilian station. The event triggered a series of governmental actions to construct a new research facility and the Brazilian Navy, in charge of the Antarctic operation logistics section (PROANTAR), promptly launched an international architecture competition for the new station project.
Located on King George Island, between the Bransfield Strait and the Drake Passage, Estação Antártica Comandante Ferraz is situated in region that represents a mayor hub for scientific research facilities from several countries.
Built on King George Island, specifically in the Keller Peninsula (a geological formation protected from strong ocean currents by the Almirantado Bay) the immediate landscape of the Ferraz Station are the Morro da Cruz´s mountain range and the Martell Cove´s waterline. Situated between the meltwater lakes from which the drinking water was extracted, and occupying an area already characterized by intense human presence, its location was strategic.
The new building footprint was informed by terrain studies (which favour an orientation parallel to facilitate installation manoeuvres within the natural declivities), and by a careful study of the environmental zoning. Occupying mostly at the Use Zones, and avoiding the occupation of the Transition and Restriction Zones, the new Ferraz Station took advantage of the original fuel tank park and helipad that remained intact after the fire, by situating itself three meters above the sea level, about forty-five meters backed off the shoreline on an imaginary parallel line to the shoreline that suggests the building linearity.


The project includes 17 laboratories with specialties such as: biosciences, bioassays, meteorology, marine biology, fungi, chemistry, atmosphere, VLF, among other scientific branches. Today the building is used by Brazilian scientists, linked to institutions, research centers and universities. Research groups face very rigorous and disputed selection processes to have the opportunity to work in such a specific and remote context.
Who does the logistics of the entire program is the Brazilian Navy, through PROANTAR - Brazilian Antarctic Program.
The building's accommodation capacity is 64 people at a time. Half of the occupants are scientists in the process of remote field research.
At each annual operation, which takes place in the summer, between November and March, the Ferraz Station can serve more than 200 scientists, who use the building's spaces in shifts and also by research vessels linked to the Brazilian Antarctic Program.
The building's program includes work support spaces, such as laboratories, as well as areas for leisure, rest, meals, a health sector and a technical block where workshops and equipment are located.
Autonomous systems for power generation, water purification, sewage treatment and solid waste management are present in the building. The energy consumed is generated, in part, by wind turbines and photovoltaic panels, ensuring the least possible impact on the environment.

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