New exhibition explores architecture through the lens of Antarctica

A new exhibition exploring alternative modes of inhabitation through the lens of Antarctica opened today at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) gallery in Hobart.

It features projects designed by architecture students at the University of Tasmania and the Melbourne School of Design (University of Melbourne) between 2020 and 2022.

“With its everchanging icescape and dynamic climatic forces, Antarctica is one of the most extreme environments on Earth. The continent challenges the students to explore designs that embrace the ideas of change, unpredictability, urgency and contingency,” said IMAS-affiliated researcher Dr Miranda Nieboer, who led the Research by Design studios at each university.

The students investigated those ideas and considered how Antarctica, with all of its environmental turbulences and flowing ice, helps us reconsider what inhabiting a place is – and when we listen to the continent and reflect on its material and climatic processes, how can it reinform our conventional architectural ideas.

“What you will see in this exhibition are the ideas and sketches of their design process and their impressive final designs,” Dr Nieboer said.

A model featured in the exhibition (L) was created by UTAS Master of Architecture student and graduate, Kaelan Durbin, who said it was definitely a challenge to design and build his model, Aeolien.

“Humans are the aliens in Antarctica, so exploring the interface between humans and the wind-formed(aeolian) icescape of Antarctica was the driving concept behind my project and its name,” Kaelan said.

“It was a steep learning curve, but it was this project that helped me get a great job just across road from IMAS, with JAWS Architects who do work in remote areas.”

The exhibition also brings the experiences of Antarctic voyages to the IMAS gallery through Ice Blink, a collection of videos created by Dr Nieboer and Dr Frederique Olivier.

“Our collection is a sensorial understanding of the forces encountered when crossing the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties and Screaming Sixties, and moving through the pack ice,” Dr Nieboer said.

“As viewers of Ice Blink, visitors will use their sensory responses as they make their own journey to the South.”

Inhabiting Antarctica: architectural explorations will be open to the public at the IMAS waterfront (20 Castray Esplanade, Battery Point) from Monday 22 August until Friday 25 November 2022 – visit our exhibition page for current opening hours and bookings


  • Top right: NPolar by Claudia Siric
  • Centre left: AEOLIAN by Kaelan Durbin - climbing the net
  • Bottom  (1) SUB_Zero by Katie White showing section of station in ice layers; (2)  UnderWEATTH by  Matthew Campbell showing a hybrid station partly submerged in the snow; and (3) Auroral Cathedral - an Antarctic Observatory by George Rowlands-Myers

Published 22 August 2022

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
28 October, 2022