Autonomous Architecture: Summit Station in Greenland Design Proposal as a Test-Bed for Future Planetary Exploration
Paper i proceeding, 2005

This paper reports results of collaboration between the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA), Houston, USA and the Applied Computing and Mechanics Laboratory (IMAC), Lausanne, Switzerland. A design project has been initiated in response to growing international scientific research interest at Summit Station in Greenland and a requirement for better accommodation and support. Research at IMAC involves the study of intelligent cable-strut structures that are adaptable and self repairing. An architectural and engineering development approach as well as conceptual proposals for the Summit Station in Greenland for science research and operational support is proposed. The proposed facility in Greenland supports 50 people during the summer season and 25 people during the wintertime. Primary elements of the modular configuration include a triangular platform with two upper floors that is supported by three jacking columns. This approach means that structure can be adjusted to accommodate differential settlement of supports. An adaptable apron structure around the primary platform is used to modify the form of the underside of the platform to maintain predetermined clearance criteria between the structure and level below, thereby avoiding excessive snow accumulating around the building and minimizing drifting and scour underneath it (on Mars, dust storms might be the difficulty). A separate structure for a mechanical shop and power support is added to complete the initial configuration. Important priorities are to provide a high quality environment and to minimize development, construction and operational costs while optimizing safety, versatility, autonomy and human factors. Testing of a plywood model of the primary facility that was installed in Summit in May 2005 and a wind tunnel model at EPFL confirmed that if the structure was not sufficiently elevated, drifting could bury it. Important parameters are the shape of the building, the form of the bottom of the platform, snow accumulation points, snow drift distribution, wind direction, wind speed and distance between the structure and the snow surface.

adaptable structures

polar regions architecture

architecture in extreme environments


Ian F.C. Smith

35th International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES) proceedings

SAE 2005-01-2909




Building Futures (2010-2018)

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