In a land devoid of colour, seven giant blue drones stand on stubby feet. The site looks like something from the opening credits of Star Wars or, for those old enough to remember it, a 1960s Thunderbirds set, but it is in fact the Hugh Broughton Architects designed Halley Research Station in the Antarctic, which this month welcomes its first tranche of summer researchers.
The station will be home to up to 52 crew members over the summer and while the site may look childlike, its design is anything but simplistic. Roughly 900 miles from the South Pole, located on an ice sheet that is perpetually moving and folding into the Weddell Sea this is the sixth Halley Research Station.
The first four were buried and crushed by snow build up. Halley V, which is still in use, overcomes this problem by being jacked up on stilts. This allows it to be raised every year, though it requires the effort of 40 people over several days. And it doesn’t solve the issue of the relentless movement of the Brunt Ice Shelf towards the Weddell Sea, meaning that the area on which the station sits will eventually break off.
To overcome these issues, Broughton’s design is raised on hydraulically elevated feet to stay above the snowfall. The units are also built on skis so can be easily be pulled to a new location. Even the modules’ bright colours — strong blue for the science and sleeping quarters and a vivid red for the largest, central module, which forms the base’s social hub — were purposely chosen to help lift crew spirits in the dark days of winter.
The project has made Broughton a sought-after expert in extreme architecture. He has created proposals for Indian, Spanish and South Korean Antarctic stations and has been commissioned to build a research station in Greenland for the American National Science Foundation. (via)
It’s been twenty years since the demolition of the Kowloon Walled City. To mark this anniversary, the South China Morning Post has created an info-graphic that details the facts and figures of what life was like inside this architectural oddity.
For the best part of the 20th century, the walled city was like a glitch in the urban fabric of Hong Kong; a solid 2.7 hectare block of unrestrained city and the most densely populated place on earth.
The height of the Walled City rose with the rest of Hong Kong. In the 1950s, housing usually consisted of wooden and stone low-rises. In the ’60s, concrete buildings of four or five storeys appeared. And in the ’70s, many were replaced by blocks of 10 storeys or more. The site became chaotically cramped, with buildings so close to each other that in some it was impossible to open a window. (via)
Luo Baogen and his wife refused to allow the government to demolish their home in Wenling, Zhejiang province, China, claiming the relocation compensation offered would not be enough to cover the cost of rebuilding. So, adjacent neighboring homes were dismantled, and, bizarrely, the road was built around the intact home, leaving it as an island in a river of new asphalt. (via)
When Google introduced its free satellite imagery service to the world in 2005, views of our planet previously accessible only to astronauts and professional surveyors were suddenly available to anyone with an internet connection. Yet the vistas revealed by this technology were not universally embraced.
Governments concerned about the sudden visibility of political, economic and military locations exerted considerable influence on suppliers of this imagery to censor sites deemed vital to national security. This form of censorship continues today, and techniques vary from country to country with preferred methods generally including use of digital cloning, blurring, pixelization and whitening out sites of interest.
Surprisingly, one of the most vociferous of all governments to enforce this form of censorship were the Dutch, hiding hundreds of significant sites including royal palaces, fuel depots and army barracks throughout their relatively small country. The Dutch method of censorship is notable for its stylistic inventiveness compared to other countries: imposing bold, multi-coloured polygons over sites rather than the subtler and more standard techniques employed elsewhere. The result is a landscape occasionally punctuated by sharp aesthetic contrasts between secret sites and the rural and urban environments surrounding them. (via)