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Cool Threesome

German architects build an Indian research station in the Antarctic. The inauguration of the New Indian Research Station Bharati, designed by bof Architekten based in Hamburg, is planned for 2012. The façade construction that has to withstand abnormally extreme conditions was also made in Germany.

One hundred years may have passed since Roald Amundsen first reached the South Pole, but the ‘sixth continent’ is still a rather inhospitable place to be. What has changed however is that the region has become an international research location for meteorology, climatology and astrophysics.
 
Bharati, the new station situated on the Antarctic coast is also intended for research purposes. Faced with the fact that the station would have to be transported halfway round the world by ship from Germany, the responsible engineering firm IMS (IMS Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH) and the architects bof Architekten from Hamburg, developed a special, rational prefabricated container design for the station. The architects had won an open competition held worldwide for the new construction at the end of 2006.

Details of development and construction of the aluminium façade are based on the requirements of the extreme weather conditions in the South Pole region. The material has to withstand abnormally high thermal and mechanical strains caused by blizzards with huge quantities of snow, enormous wind speeds and temperatures of -40°C and under. A large proportion of the façade is glazed to give the researchers a generous view of the polar region and to counteract any feelings of claustrophobia. In this transparent part, the outer envelope is made using a specially modified stick system with high thermal insulation aluminium panels and triple insulated glass elements, with an inclination of up to 15° at the two narrow ends. A Ucw value of 0.8 W/(m²K) is achieved with this type of façade construction. The design had to allow assembly and disassembly during a test set-up in Duisburg followed by final assembly in the Antarctic target location. The use of pre-assembled elements provided enough flexibility for adaption of the façade construction to the necessary modular concept.
 
The Research Station Bharati weighs approximately 1,000 metric tons and has a surface area of about 2,000 m². The construction composed of 134 containers was transported by ship from Antwerp to Cape Town. There, another 50 containers for the construction camp, further equipment material and the 50 assembly team members were taken on board. The distance from Cape Town to the final destination Larsemann Hills on the northern edge of the Antarctic was 5,200 km. Last summer, a test construction of Bharati Station was set up in the inland port of Duisburg, 15,000 km from Larsemann Hills. This involved complete equipment of the individual containers, followed by fixing all installations and fittings in a seaworthy manner.

Since the time window for assembly at the target site during the Antarctic summer is roughly limited to March 2012, all the required parts have to be available and all the assembly steps have to work. Whether this masterpiece of logistics can be completed successfully remains to be seen – building of the Station has commenced. In January 2012, a second shipment will deliver the remaining material for final completion of the Research Station Bharati. Completion is scheduled for March/April, when approximately 25 experts will start running the Polar Station and live and work there.
 
South Polar Research Station Bharati
Planning: bof Architekten, Hamburg; IMS Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH
General contractor: Kaefer Construction GmbH
Façade/Metal construction: Lenderoth GmbH
Façade/Window aluminium profiles: WICONA

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