> eptap



1.0 polar network

 EPTAP, or the Polar Station Parodi, was produced in a colaborative action between ARQZE and the Antartic Division of the Chilean Air Force, who are interested in establishing a permanent infrastructure in Patriot Hills to accomodate the anticipated increase in the logistical activity of blue ice runway in support of polar zone flight paths. EPTAP will conform the first permanent polar station in the vicinity of a blue ice zone. It has an initial capacity for 24 persons  and will allow the Chilean Air Force to provide  navigational, communicational, and logistical services throughout the summer months. Chile will pursue a long term policy of aerial and surface exploration, penetration, and habitation with this form of station producing a network beginning in King George Island, crossing points of logistical support in Welcome Nunatak and Thiel Mountains, and transforming Patriot Hills into the second most important national antartic settlement, catalysing scientific, cultural and touristic development within the interior of the continent. EPTAP becomes the first node of this network, extending national activity towards the pole and towards an aerial link with other continents close to antartica.

2.0 blue ice runway


morphology. Situated at 80 degrees south, the Patriot hills perforate  850m of  ice and on their north side produce an acceleration in the catabatic winds which flow constantly northwards and downwards from the 4000m polar icecap. This local increase in the velocity of the winds displaces the snow layer and exposes the surface of the highly dense and transparent blue ice.

landing. In 1984 it was confirmed that this extensive horizontal surface could be implemented as a natural runway capable of receiving cargo planes such as h the hercules_c130, flying directly from punta arenas in 6 hours and landing with wheels on the ice.


air transport. given the difficulties in terrestrial travel in antarctica and the limited cargo capacity of ski equipped aircraft, blue ice runways will completely  transform air transport, reducing costs spectacularly and establishing a network of natural airports that  will activate the interior of the continent.

3.0 environment


snow accumulation . The EPTAP station incorporates the processes of snow accumulation particular to blue ice fields into its location and organization. The zone of superficial equilibrium defines an area of snowfield located 800 m north of the blue ice, where the wind decelerates and precipitates the snow it has eroded from the icefield, generating a surface condition that is stable, and hence avoiding the burying of the station in time. This zone has a depth of hardened snow of approximately two meters that is supported on the blue ice below. this ground condition allows the station to be situated without suffering the problems of sinking that affect other antarctic stations. These two conditions generate a very favourable situation for the development of future stations within this zone uniquely associated with blue ice fields. the identification of this opportunity through colaboration with glaciologists and the successful demonstration of its operability through the implementation of the eptap station was the major achievement of the project.


 situ data

Geolocation> Latitude 80°19´south Longitude 81°18’´west

distance to south Pole> 1084km

altitude> 855m above sea level


sunrise august 25 12.00hrs

sunset april 17 12.00hrs

summer 135 continuous days of sunshine

winter 135 continuous days of darkness.


minimum rec. temp. –35.8°C .

temp. promedio january - feburary   -20°C

temp.min. predicted–70°C

Humidity> humidity between 28% and 65%, with an average of 35%

catabatic wind> 

max.registered velocity150 km/h 29 december 1999

average velocity 20 km/h in mission 1998

max. predicted 200km/h

blue ice area > Average Ice thickness 700m

length 8km east west.

width 2km. north south

average displacement 8m each year


4.0  module intervention

ARQZE developed the EPTAP design on the basis of a detailed critical analysis of  six Igloo Cabin  living modules that had been purchased previously by the FACH from an Australian company.   The organization, deployability, materiality, and performativity of this modular fibreglass unit  informed a proposition for their transformation and incorporation into the design of a permanent  polar station adapted to the extreme conditions of Patriot Hills.

insulation. The most critical deficiency of the modules is their low level of insulation and the cold bridges and filtration of air produced in all of the joints between panels. The u-value of the modular panels was increased by applying a layer of 50mm of high density polyurethane  on the interior surface, finished with a white pvc membrane, isolating the interior of the module completely from the existing fibreglass and resin structure and eliminating all filtrations.The resulting internal surface promoted tactile contact, inviting the inhabitants to occupy the space from its limits in a mediation through the skin and the body of an architectonic construction that is energetic and corporeal, while increasing the habitable volume .

protesis. The intention of maximizing the void at the centre of the 12m2 module together with the recognition of a series of activities that are superimposed in this space led to the proposition for a furniture system that was flexible, transformable, and capable of dissappearing  when not being used. An aluminium framed canvas stretcher formed the basic component of the system,  providing material support for the activities of the 4 inhabitants of sleeping,  working and relaxing in a sequential cycle within the same space.