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La arquitectura más genial está en la Antártida

La comunidad científica y el gobierno de Brasil acaban de inaugurar en la Antártida su base de investigación Comandante Ferraz. Son dos edificios de poca altura, diseñados por Estudio 41, una empresa brasileña de arquitectura. Contiene laboratorios y alojamientos. Bien podrían confundirse con un museo de arte o un hotel boutique.

Aunque es un entorno muy ajeno al clima tradicional de ese país latinoamericano, sus autoridades inauguraron este año su nueva base de investigación Comandante Ferraz, construida por la empresa de arquitectura Estudio 41.

“Brasil es tropical, así que no estábamos habituados a estas condiciones”, señaló Emerson Vidigal, director de esa empresa. ‘Estas condiciones’ son temperaturas que descienden a -51 °C y vientos que alcanzan los 160 km/hora.

Primeras edificaciones

A lo largo del siglo XX, la arquitectura en la Antártida fue un asunto práctico e improvisado: su fin ha sido mantener vivos a los ocupantes y resguardarlos del clima. Desde 1959, cuando el Tratado Antártico destinó ese continente a la investigación, los científicos han llegado en cantidades cada vez más grandes, con necesidades cada vez más complejas.

“Como arquitectos, nos interesa la comodidad de la gente, así que nos propusimos crear un tipo de ambiente propicio para el bienestar”, comentó Vidigal.

Hugh Broughton Architects diseñó la base Halley VI, la cual ofrece un ambiente más cómodo para vivir y trabajar. Está montada sobre pilotes hidráulicos, lo que permite que los operadores la eleven para sacarla de la nieve acumulada.

Cuando los exploradores británicos construyeron ahí una de las primeras estructuras permanentes en 1902, la aislaron con fieltro y la revistieron con madera. La cabaña era “tan fría y entraba tanto viento que, durante el primer año, nunca se habitó”, recordó Ernest Shackleton, uno de los miembros de esa expedición. Cuando la acumulación de nieve obstruía la puerta, el equipo entraba y salía por una ventana.

Ese espíritu de improvisación continuó durante décadas. En 1956, la organización británica Royal Society fundó la base Halley, pero, para 1961, sus instalaciones habían quedado enterradas bajo la nieve. Nuevas Halleys fueron reconstruidas con el tiempo, cada vez más costosas y complicadas.

Cuando surgió la necesidad de construir una nueva base en 2005, la Prospección Antártica Británica, que gestiona el espacio del Reino Unido en la Antártida, adoptó un enfoque novedoso. Junto con el Real Instituto de Arquitectos Británicos, patrocinó un concurso de diseño. La empresa ganadora, Hugh Broughton Architects, diseñó la última base Halley para que durara al menos 20 años.

La Base Antártica Española (BAE) Juan Carlos I inició su renovación en 2018, a cargo de la empresa Hugh Broughton Architects.

La novedosa estructura está asentada sobre una plataforma de hielo que le permite moverse gracias a unos esquíes en la base de los pilotes. “Con anterioridad, se les decía a los ingenieros: ‘Este es el clima, esta es la velocidad del viento, estas son las limitaciones’. Pero ahora los proyectos pretenden usar la arquitectura como medio para mejorar el bienestar y la eficiencia de la operación”, comentó Broughton

Aparte de soportar algunas de las condiciones climáticas más extremas del mundo, los materiales de construcción tienen que enviarse y armarse en las escasas doce semanas del verano.

Nuevo proyecto

Para Estados Unidos, la arquitectura en la Antártida es urgente. La base más grande de ese país, McMurdo, se inauguró en 1956 como una estructura improvisada que creció de acuerdo con las circunstancias durante décadas .

Será una década de renovación para la base más grande de Estados Unidos, McMurdo, inaugurada en 1956 como una base naval improvisada. Uno de los diseños propuestos para renovar y modernizar la estación McMurdo (EE. UU.) en la Antártida.

“Con el fin de prepararse para el trabajo de campo, los científicos reciben capacitación en un edificio, recogen el equipo en otro, reciben una motonieve en otra edificación y le ponen combustible en otro sitio”, dijo Ben Roth, gerente de proyectos de Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science, el programa de la Fundación Nacional para la Ciencia que modernizará la estación durante la próxima década.

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