Chinese firm wins $100m deal to rebuild Brazil’s Antarctic base

An international team has been awarded a contract to build a research station in the freezing Antarctic for Brazil, to replace one that burned down in 2012.

China National Electronics Imports and Exports Corporation (CEIEC) now has 540 days to complete the "Comandante Ferraz" base on St George’s Island.

The new base (shown above) will be a 5,000-sq-m structure that can accommodate 64 people and 18 laboratories. As well as the living and working quarters, the company will build a heliport and the solar panels and wind turbines that will power the base.

The original base was destroyed by a fire in the station’s generators. Two soldiers were killed and one injured in the blaze.

The base was designed by Brazilian firm Studio 41 Architecture, which won an international design completion in 2013.

The design puts bedrooms on the upper of two structures, together with a video room, a cyber cafe, a conference room and library. The lower block houses the laboratories, garages and the central storehouses.

A video showing a fly-through of the design can be seen here.

The original Comandante Ferraz base, named after the Brazilian naval officer who convinced his government to take an interest in the Antarctic (Agencia Brasil/Wikimedia Commons)

CEIEC is a state-owned enterprise that combines defence electronics and civil engineering, and has built up a large portfolio of international project in more than 160 countries. According to its website, it made sales worth $3.8bn in 2011.

The Antarctic is an area of increasing interest to the Chinese. The China Daily newspaper reported last month that it is planning to set up its first air squadron this year to support its 277 researchers in four research stations.

Countries’ activities in Antarctica are tightly constrained by international law. The Antarctic Treaty System, which entered into force in 1961, forbids military and any other activity that might harm the environment – one Chinese surgeon was recently criticised for growing his own vegetables.

Top image: Brazilian architect Studio 41’s design for the base

  • Updated on 4th December 2017 to change the nationality of Studio 41
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