Inspired by the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel's concept of modular construction for military hospitals in the Crimea, our design proposes a series of prefabricated shipping containers, bolted together during the 10-12 week Antarctic summer. This form is wrapped in a 'puffer jacket' of structural fabric pillows, which streamline the building aerodynamically and provide a first line of defence against the harsh climate.

Four pairs of articulated hydraulic legs and feet allow stepping above drifting snow, and generate the forward walking movement necessary to relocate the buildings, in order to counteract the gradual flow of the Ice Shelf. The form of the building, and its ground clearance, have been deliberately engineered to manage snow drifting.

The structure is planned with a flexible interior, fitted out with custom-designed pods as bedrooms, bathrooms, a bar, gym, offices and plant rooms, all bolted in place on site. The pods are laid out around communal spaces, which allow plenty of room and separation, for recreation, work and sleep.


  • Location Antarctica
  • Value £18 million
  • Size 5,000 m²
  • Client British Antarctic Survey
  • Year 2005