> shockwave



Designed from materials of the highest specifications, the shockwave system offers secure and innovative infrastructural solutions for multiple activities in conditions ranging from desert storms in the atacama desert to the catabatic winds of the Antarctic interior. The shockwave system was originally designed in response to the logistical demands of loading and unloading  the hercules C130 planes on the blue ice runway at patriot Hills. Since then the system has been applied in diverse situations such as a logistical support for the chile’s blue helmet troops stationed in haiti to a temporary gimnasium in Base frei in Antarctica. In each case the system has been adapted to the particular use and the demands of the  specific situation, proving the resilience of the original design.



The first prototype was developed in response to the logistical demands of loading and unloading  the Hercules C130 planes on the blue ice runway at patriot Hills. The catabatic winds are extremely unpredictable and intense in this part of Antarctica, and occasionally cargo that had been unloaded onto the ice was subsequently damaged or lost before it could be transported by skidoo and stored in the EPTAP station. The original design for the rapidly deployable semi-permanent hangar included a system of thermally set anchors for fixing to the blue ice. Particular to this model are the LTA membrane fabricated by Seamans in Ohio, the snow filled bag establishing the seal with blue ice, and the orange eyelid of the door that makes the hangar visible in whiteout conditions.

After the original mission to Patriot Hills was cancelled in 2004, the shockwave 150 hangar was redeployed by Hercules C130 plane to Haiti along with the blue helmet soldiers that Chile provided as part of the UN aid in response to the humanitarian emergency after the earthquake.  A new blackout membrane was fabrcated to reduce solar gain from the tropical sun and circular patches of translucent membrane were introduced to provide distributed natural lighting on the inside. The main hangar entrance was redeveloped with some rigid polycarbonate panels and a walk through door adapted to the use of the space as a eating living and socializing space for personnel.




shape > The original shape of the shockwave has been generated with advanced modelling software, producing a poligonized fuselage with high aerodynamic performance that can resist winds of 150km/hr and snowloading of one metre.


geodesic >The continuous double curvature of the geodesic geometry generates a structural frame that distributes loading evenly throughout a network of points, minimizing the concentration of forces and permitting the use of highly efficient and lightweight structural elements.


stereometric >The integration of sterometric reinforcing with geodesic geometry generates a series of autonomous rigid trusses that are implemented in the assembly process. The trusses allow the generation of  the discontinuity in the geodesic structure introduced bym the large portals required to enter planes and machinery. The relocation and scaling of the stereometric trusses permits the generation of customized forms that adapt to specific client requirements.



tubing > The galvanized steel tubes  have a standard diametre of 38mm and a maximum length of 1.6m to minimize the risk of buckling. The terminals of the tubes are compressed into a rigid planar form that permits fixing with parker bolts to the disc nodes.

disc > The structural and geometrical relationships between the tubes are consolidated by a series of galvanized steel discs with different geometrical forms. These disc nodes  are designed to facilitate the assembly process, and guarantee the integrity and stability of the structure. They are produced through a process of 12 mechanized operations on 2mm steel plate.

skin >The standard shockwave system is fabricated in PVC coated polyester fabrics of the highest specification, welded together ultrasonically, producing hermetic, and durable membranes that integrate ultraviolet protection and lacquered finishes. This aerodynamic fuselage avoids the vibration and fatigue experienced in standard tent solutions. The membrane is assembled from three panels to facilitate manipulation, and sealed by overlapping flaps and velcro. The panels are fixed to the steel structure with nylon slings and buckles. The quality of the membrane can be adapted to suit specific requirements, including LTA fabrics in antarctica and blackout materials for strategic situations.

feet > The tripod feet are highly adjustable, adapting to  uneven terrains, and the articulated connection with the truss allows them to be rotated into the air during assembly.

portal >The large portal is closed by a membrane panel fixed to the stereometric truss and a second arch that can be anchored to a series of points by ratchets to permit tensioning. This portal can be raised by a system of nylon slings.



self mounting

Shockwave systems are assembled by hand with no mechanical support necessary, allowing deployment in remote situations.


maps > The shockwave 150 hangar can be assembled by a team of 8 in 24  hours, and the geometrical complexity is rapidly comprehended through clear maps and manuals


truss > initially the four stereometric trusses are assembled on the ground in a safe and rapid action that can be executed in parallel.


hoist> The trusses are fixed to their respective tripod feet and hoisted into the air by a mast, using rope and mechanical advantage.


integration > using the trusses as primary structure, once rotated and located in place additional steel tubes are bolted in to establish a stable geodesic shell.


skin > The membrane is lifted onto the geodesic structure and unfolded by hand, then fixed by Velcro.


transport  When collapsed the shockwave system is very compact, being contained within a series of 1.6m bags  weighing 40kg each,  easily transported by small scale pickups, boats and aircraft.


series                        shockwave 150          

surface area             150m2                        

length                        16m                                        

width                         10m                                        

height                        6m                                          

weight                        1300kg




In 2009 the existing gymnasium at Base Frei on King George Island suffered a fire and was completely destroyed. ARQZE was tasked with designing and fabricating  a replacement temporary gymnasium in record time before the winter arrived and service flights were suspended. The design eliminated the large entrance doorway and produced a symmetrical relationship with the ground at both ends through transparent panels and doorways. The membrane was fabricated as a double skin sandwich with a polyester insulation blanket to avoid any issues with dew points and freezing inside the insulation material. Transportation of the large volume membrane   panels was facilitated by including an airtight valve and vacuum compressing them. During its second winter some problems were experienced with vibrational loosening of the bolts which provoked the collapse of a section of the fuselage during a five day storm 170km/hr winds. The damaged  components were refabricated and the structure reassembled and secured with thread locking compound. The membrane was also reinforced by a series of orange membrane bands that effectively compress it against the geodesic frame and hence eliminate the loading on the velcro flaps that join the membrane panels.


The gymnasium that was initially designed as temporary has now been operative for 11 years, demonstrating that deployable lightweight solutions are an effective and sustainable way of undertaking  fully functioning Antarctic infrastructure. The long term project for renovating the complete station at Base Frei has never achieved approval and perhaps the logic applied in the gymnasium might offer a better approach for redeveloping the outdated infrastructure of the rest of the Base Frei station unit by unit.



series                        shockwave 330          

surface area             330m2                        

length                        26m                                        

width                         15m                                        

height                        7.5m                                       

weight                       3,300kg

© 2020 by pol taylor.