Scientific Intitutions

Logistical Support

Technical partners / Sponsors:

© 2018:19 Joao Pinelo Silva

Introduction to the Polar Lodge

Location: Recorded on site in Collins Bay, King George's Island, Antarctica

Date: February 28th 2019

Director & Camera: Professor Emeritus Sue Roaf

6th March 2019 – GOODBYE PUNTA ARENAS – SEE YOU IN 2020
Roaring 20s in the Roaring 40s
Nao Victoria - Maggelan's ship
The Lodge evolves too

3rd-5th March 2019 – UNWINDING
Sue hits the Casino Spa
Manuel works on papers
Dinner at the Savoy

2nd March 2019 – GOODBYE ESCUDERO
Leaving the station
March of the Green Team
Last glimpse of Antarctica

1th March 2019 – NIGHT OUT IN A 'CARRIER'
Coolest wheels in Antarctica
Artigas station + iceberg1
Uruguayans like the Lodge

28th February 2019 – LAST DAY AT COLLINS BAY
Penguins love ice slides
Getting ready for 100mph winds
Goodbye Polar Lodge 2019

27th February 2019 – HOWLING WINTER ARRIVES
Wind over 34 knots
Boats safe in the bay
ORV8 - our tent material

26th February 2019 – GHER NET
Don't miss breakfast
Gher net being made
Excellent workshops useful

25th February 2019 – DOWNLOADING DAY
Iceberg tips and moves
Boat pilots wait for orders
Dinner time is always welcome

24th February 2019 – AFTER THE STORM
Joao washing up after storm
Unresolved flue design
Icebergs emit ancient blue

23rd February 2019 – COLLINS BAY
Our Rock Star
Joao - Guy Guru
Flaming sunset

22nd February 2019 – WATER AND WINDSCAPING
Velux solar lights charging
Building the wind wall
A miracle the lodge built at all

21th February 2019 – COLLINS BAY
Inner tent tied to structure
Epic iceberg plunge
Drone shot of PL2

20th February 2019 – WINDY DAY
Wind strong today in the bay
PL2 is just W of Punta Jacinta
Hard work clearing fire site

19th February 2019 - COLLINS BAY
Lodge loaded onto Zodiac
Perfect day: lodge rises
Joining heaven to earth

18th February 2019 - ESCUDERO
Ice sculpture littered shores
Amazing Aquarium
Bay Watch as data loggers load

17th February 2019 - ESCUDERO
Visit the Russian church
ORV8 outer envelope on
Pack tent to ship to site

16th February 2019 - COLLINS BAY
To our Collin’s Bay site
Test-run the tent in a shed
Test the instruments

15th February 2019 - OFF TO ANTARCTICA
Join the PROPOLAR teams
DAP Air to King George Island
Welcome to Escudero station

12th-14th February 2019 - PUNTA ARENAS
We fly over high Andes
To Punta Arenas
City of seafaring heroes


Because the world’s weather is becoming more extreme and we aim to help inform and provide temporary, and emergency shelters in areas of extreme cold and winds that are easily transportable and that leave no pollution behind them. How well will PL2 work? We don’t know but what is sure is that the knowledge gained from it will change the way we look at final structure design not only in tents but in the buildings around the world that will have to become stronger and safer to survive in the increasingly extreme climate and weather events that are growing commonplace everywhere.


The team first reviewed the different construction types used in the various research bases in Antarctica. Then, in search for a valid tent type for temporary use there, a traditional Mongolian yurt was taken to Collins Bay for testing in 2016. That tent, Polar Lodge 1, failed in 200mph winds and proved to have some drawbacks such being very heavy to transport and not being adequately waterproof in that climate. Polar Lodge 2 (PL2) has taken the yurt design to a whole new level. The traditional timber rib structure of the yurt has been optimised to reduce wind resistance and rebuilt, and the felt, canvas and timber floors have been replaced with ultra-materials that have never been used to date in this context. With space-blanket type materials in a double envelope, one inside the structure, and one outside, and an external weatherproof skin of reused Dyneema racing yacht sails and an added porch and better guy anchorage we believe PL2 will be able to survive the extreme winds and cold. The solid timber floor has been replaced with twin ground sheets separated by natural cork and covered with a triple floor of Weaver Green rugs and underlay made from recycled plastic bottles. Will this new assemblage of materials keep occupants thermally safe? We will find out during the initial PL2 tests in February 2019 and then over the year, as the data recording continues on the site.

Main Features

Each of our lodges need to meet the following criteria:

  • Withstand winds up to 220km/h;
  • Be transportable by two persons;
  • Be assembled by two non-experts;
  • Provide thermal comfort either in Antarctica or in hot deserts;
  • Weigh less than 200kg;
  • Fit in two bags of approx. 100 x 60 x 30cm;

  • Expected Outcomes

    Apart from the obvious goals of developing:

  • One structure that can withstand winds up to 220kph;
  • One shell (building envelope) that provides thermal comfort in the environment of Antarctica;
  • One shell that provides thermal conform in the hot climate of a hot desert.
  • In the process of using and testing new materials and assemblages, the team will develop knowledge that can be used:

  • In both permanent and non-permanent buildings
  • Reveal unknown behaviour of new materails;
  • Develop new ways to assemble materials;
  • Develop new assemblage techniques;
  • Explore whole new ways of using extreme materials to provide extreme shelters.
  • We don’t know - but what is sure is that the knowledge gained from it will change the way we look at final structure design not only in tents but in the buildings around the world that will have to become stronger and safer to survive in the increasingly extreme climate and weather events that are growing commonplace everywhere.

    Associate Professor (with habilitation) Manuel Correia Guedes - Project Coordinator
    Architect, MPhil and PhD from Cambridge

    University of Lisbon, Instituto Superior Técnico

    Manuel Correia Guedes Architect, M.Phil., Ph.D. (Univ. Cambridge) is an Associated Professor (with Habilitation) at the Higher Technical Institute (IST) of the University of Lisbon. Former Director of the Architectural Research Centre of the IST, and of the Course of Architecture. He is responsible for several Disciplines of the M.Sc. and Ph.D courses of Architecture and Civil Engineering, including Environmental Design, Sustainable Design, Building Services and Infrastructures. He is a doctoral tutor and responsible for International Exchange Programs. He has worked extensively on international research programmes and Coordinates two E.U. projects (SURE- AFRICA and Polar Lodge). He is also National Coordinator of several E.C. funded Projects on Sustainable/ Energy Efficient design. He has authored and co-authored 12 books and published numerous research papers on a wide range of issues around sustainability and passive design for many countries and climates. He is also a seasoned sailor and farmer.

    Emeritus Professor Susan Roaf
    B.A.Hons, A.A. Dipl., PhD, ARB, FRIAS

    Heriot Watt University

    Susan is an Emeritus Professor of Architectural Engineering, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, is an award winning author, teacher, architect and energy pioneer. Her research has covered windcatchers and nomadic architecture in the Near East, Mesopotamian archaeology, solar, low carbon, resilient and sustainable design, thermal comfort. She was an Oxford City Councillor for seven years and an elected member of the UK Architects Registration Board. Her internationally best-selling books include: Ecohouse: A Design Guide; Adapting Buildings and Cites for Climate Change; Benchmarks for Sustainable Buildings and Adaptive Thermal Comfort. She Chaired PLEA 2017 (, Co-Chaired the 2018 Windsor Conference on Adaptive Comfort ( and is Co-Chair of CATE 2019 in April 2019 on Comfort at the Extremes ( ). She is currently on third of the Portuguese Pro-Polar expeditionary team designing and testing an extreme tent in Antarctica as a prototype for high performance shelters in extremely cold environments.

    Assistant Professor Joao Pinelo Silva
    Architect, Lic., MSc, PhD, ARB, Intl AIA, EDAC

    University of Bahrain

    Joao is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Bahrain. His research focuses on spatial cognition, urban planning, sustainable buildings. And sustainability strategies for hot climates ( He is the founder and leader of Bahrain Parks (, which supports the local and central governments while involving public participation in the development of the national infrastructure of urban parks and gardens in Bahrain. He also performed the first preliminary study on the passive shading effect of roof photovoltaic panels in the Arabian Gulf. Joao is interested in gaining a better understanding of the implications of design on the use of buildings, institutions, and cities. His research on spatial cognition involves the study of the spatial behaviour of people in the built environment, and he is a co-author of the original research published by Nature which revealed essential aspects of the way the human brain reacts to the topology of the network in the urban context ( Joao follows an evidence-based approach. His research has led him to develop software tools to assist with collecting, collating and analysing data within spatial frameworks to facilitate and standardise the gathering of data in a way that increases the base of evidence and make designing more efficient and effective.

    Assistant Professor Gustavo Cantuária
    Architect, MA and PhD from Architectural Association, London

    University Centre of Brasília

    Gustavo Alexandre Cardoso Cantuaria Gustavo is the founding partner of Arquitetura Estudio Mosaico and is an Architecture Professor at the University Centre of Brasilia (Uni CEUB) for the course of Architecture. He lectures on the topic of culture, climate, and architecture; sustainable architecture; bioclimatic design; heat islands and urban vegetation, His principal discipline for the graduate school is 'Urban Transformation and Architectural Renewal'. He has authored and co-authored papers, chapters, and books on these themes. He has collaborated in many international research projects with focus on sustainability and passive cooling in diverse contexts like South America, Africa, and Antarctica. He is a graduate tutor and doctoral external examiner. He is also an examiner of architecture courses in Brazil and collaborating South American countries, representing the Ministry of Education. He also designs and produces artistic tiles.

    Associate Professor Bruno Gomes Marques
    Architect, PhD

    University of Lisbon, Instituto Superior Técnico

    Bruno is an Architect with a PhD in architecture and civil engineering. He is a post-doc Researcher at LESE - Construct - FEUP - Faculty of Engineering in Porto, and Associated Professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Arts at the Universidade Lusíada of Porto. Develops research in Bioclimatic and Sustainable Architecture since 2004 in addition to University teaching activity since 1998 in construction and architecture. Has Coordinated the "ECO-SUSTAINED DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA" group between 2011 and 2014 at the Center for African Studies of the University of Porto. From 2013 to 2019 he has been supported by a fellowship of FCT for post-doctoral research under the thematic area of Sustainable Architecture, in developing countries. Integrates several editorial committees of scientific journals and international congresses.

    Martin Oughton
    Architect, Lic., MSc, PhD, ARB, Intl AIA, EDAC

    Mode, Ltd

    Martin is a high performance carbon fibre composite design and engineering specialist, director of MODE ( which was formed in 2012. Applying his extensive expertise and experience of the elite F1 and Grand Prix yacht industries to the aerospace, automotive and marine sectors in his rapidly expanding spin-out company Martin has over 10 years’ experience in high performance carbon fibre composite R&D – from designing carbon pull rods for F1 teams to creating world-first high performance composite structures for yachts for the likes of Team Invictus and Future Fibres Rigging Systems (FFRS). For the Polar Lodge project he simulated and optimised the yurt form, structure, central crown supports and their base. The latter, formed of bio-composites is being tested in Antarctica in 2019.

    Research Assistant Motaz Mestarehi
    Architect, BSc

    Bahrain Parks

    Motaz works as a research assistant at Bahrain Parks, graduated from University of Bahrain in 2017, he has worked on numerous projects concerned with Bahrain's public parks, building efficiency and renewable energy. He has co-authored papers on Public parks and Building efficiency in Bahrain, he has presented two papers at 3ICT'18 and SRC18 conferences in Bahrain in 2018. His skills include 3D modelling and analysis, Digital Graphic Design, 2D Technical Drawing, writing skills, team leading and conducting surveys.

    Location of the Polar Lodge in Antarctica

    The markers on the map below link you to 360 degree videos of those locations, including views of the Polar Lodge and its beautiful but inhospitable surroundings.


    Assembly Timelapse

    Timelapse video of the assembly On Febreuary 2019 in Collins Bay, King George's Island, Antarctica

    The assembly of the lodge can be done by two non-experts without tools in less than 3 hours. Windproofing to 220km/h takes an extra four to eight hours.

    Wind Speed and Direction
    Wind speed and direction were crucial factors to the siting of the lodge.
    This interactive plot allows you to visualise nearly 50 years of measurements (Jan. 1970 to Feb. 2019). Play to see how the data varies throught the year.

    Source of raw data:
    Dirección General De Aeronáutica Civil; Dirección Meteorológica de Chile; Servicios Climáticos

    Fire Alarm

    As in all human man-built habitats, the polar lodge needs to keep their occupants safe, so a fire alarm was mandatory. Furthermore, the Antarctic atmosphere is rather dry, raising the risk of fire to above average. The instrument that we are using for this is a general high-end alarm from Honeywell, who lent us one unit (marketing image below). This is a multi-meter device which also measures levels of carbon monoxide and fumes.

    Air Quality

    The accumulation of toxic gases such as carbon monoxide can have detrimental health effects and compromise comfort. In a small volume of air as is the case of the polar lodge, toxic gases can reach high levels of concentration quickly. We are using a CO meter and alarm to keep track of such variations and to learn when the internal atmosphere needs refreshing. The instrument we are using for this is a conventional high-end meter from Honeywell, who lent us one unit (marketing image below). This is the same unit that was mentioned above as fire alarm.

    Smoke Detection

    The early detection of fires is crucial for their containment, and therefore a smoke detector is necessarily part of the safety paraphernalia of the polar lodge. The instrument we are using for this is a conventional high-end meter from Honeywell, who lent us one unit (marketing image below). This is the same unit that was mentioned above as fire alarm and carbon monoxide detector.

    Phases of the Project

    First Antarctic Expedition
  • Test version 1 of structure
  • Test version 1 of Antarctic shell
  • Second Antarctic Expedition
  • Test version 2 of structure
  • Test version 2 of Antarctic shell
  • First Desert Expedition
    2020 - Bahrain
  • Test version 1 of Desert shell
  • ...

  • February 2016

    Bahrain 2020

    The first desert expedition is tentatively being planned to be in Bahrain in the summer 2020.

    Scientific Intitutions
    Logistical Support
    Technical partners / Sponsors