Polar lab AR realized the first public speaking event about their investigation for the Argentine hub of the ANTARCTICA 200 project. The conference took place this October at the Buenos Aires Architecture Biennial, held in la Usina del Arte, and gathered students, professionals, and attendants curious about the continent.
Polar Lab AR is headed by Florencia Rodriguez and it is the Argentine hub of an interdisciplinary and international platform led by Giulia Foscari and Francesco Bandarin. Based out of the Architectural Association of London (AA), this network of professionals investigates the rapid transformation of the polar region under the effects of global warming and the human footprint on the continent. The extreme geographical condition of the territory allows, on the one hand, to study the environment, collect objective data, and analyze the impact of global productive systems; and, on the other, redesign processes of occupation and territorial management as well as imagine future scenarios. Antarctica is the largest existing laboratory.
The Polar Lab AR research considers three main conceptual frames: inhabitation, science, and geopolitics. These axes structured the panel, which included observations on issues linked to architecture, environment, social practices, speculative scenarios, and thoughts on the role of the continent in a global context. The search for information, documentation, and observation about Antarctica is essential to develop critical analysis and design tools of planetary relevance.
Florencia Rodríguez moderated the panel and gave the keynote speech, establishing a theoretical groundwork for the issues addressed by the Argentine hub. The participants were Santiago Bogani, Pablo Gerson, Isabella Moretti, Violeta Nuviala, Victoria Nuviala, Francisca Gil Sosa, and Rodrigo Kommers Wender.
To share a broader Antarctic context to the audience, the NESS team presented a draft of a timeline that seeks to sort the data acquired over the two hundred years since the discovery of the continent. It is a graphic tool that allows for an easy-to-read, first look at Antarctica. The exercise becomes of interest when data regarding habitability, culture, politics, and population—both animal and human—starts to be graphically related over time. The timeline is under development now and will be published in the next printed edition of NESS magazine.
Talking specifically about architecture, Rodrigo Kommers Wender from PLOT magazine centered his presentation on three specific contemporary scientific bases. This closer look at the existing architecture pointed out the difficulties that it takes to inhabit and to build on extreme conditions, explaining why Antarctica is the place where technology is taken to the limit.
Next, a question was pronounced: what place do the continent’s existing buildings occupy in the history of architecture? Victoria Nuviala and Violeta Nuviala’s presentation suggested a parallelism between modern architecture and Antarctic bases. Through a series of collages made from modern buildings and scientific stations, the presentation proved that the resemblances were notable. We were also reminded of Archigram’s “Walking City,” a utopic drawing that displays edifications capable of moving. Afterward, images of the Halley VI station were presented. It is the lastest British Antarctic survey’s scientific base, capable of sliding over the ice. Thus, can Antarctica be the possible scenario for the construction of apparently impossible imaginaries?
To conclude the round table, Isabella Moretti reflected on Antarctica’s entity and how we as humans choose to dialogue with it.
“Architects as specialist mediators between interior and exterior, are co-responsible and can become creators of new adaptation strategies. Rodrigo recently commented on the mandatory environmental, technological, psychological, and physiological studies performed to inhabit Antarctica and exposed it as a situated practice. What prevents us from carrying out these procedures in less extreme places, where most of us usually operate? It is a matter of response-ability, following Donna Haraway, to engage our technical and projective skills with practices of mutual care.”– Isabella Moretti
The different topics addressed by the panel contributed to a highly productive encounter, providing a broad conceptual framework of Antarctic issues, a preview of a collective investigation in progress.