Lightweight Structures for Remote Areas

  • Jessica Bak Fernandoy-Bak

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The Antarctic built environment is characterised for its particular occupational regimen and includes whole-year stations, small-scale seasonal station and refuges,and temporary field camps. In recent years,Antarctic construction has begun to be considered of interest for the architectural and engineering communities, and interesting efforts have been made to provide solutions for spanning building, energy efficiency and improvements in indoor habitability. A fascinating array of lightweight constructions can be identified, whose contribution has not, until now, been fully documented and acknowledged. They represent remarkable examples of smart use of structural efficiency and minimal impact strategies enduring one of the harshest environments. This research is design-led and is motivated by the extension of the use of lightweight structures in remote fragile areas. The research validates the concept of polar lightweight design through a sound narrative describing the history and potential of this type of construction. For this, this research looks at the case of the Antarctic built environment. Furthermore, this research proposes that extension in the use lightweight construction could offer a sustainable solution for the predicted increase in the number of settlements being established in Antarctica. Knowledge and solutions achieved in this context can also be applied in other less demanding and fragile scenarios. In this regard, advanced computational design tools have been extensively validated for the realisation of structural surfaces of high geometrical complexity. Parametric design tools, are of particular interest to this research, as they allow the optimisation of a structure, either as a whole, or via its physical components. This research proposes that such tools can be employed for the development of Polar lightweight systems of larger scale and more complex configurations than currently seen. The first part is dedicated to the documentation and systematic characterisation of the vernacular Subantarctic and Antarctic lightweight constructions as structural systems. In the second part, the integration of polar constraints in the design of a generic lightweight structural system using parametric design tools is developed, in order to demonstrate the potential of this field for the creation of novel design methods and solutions. The particular case of a new medium-scale seasonal station is used as a case-study.
Date of Award22 Jun 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPaul Shepherd (Supervisor) & Paul Richens (Supervisor)

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