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80°08’ S, 163° 57’ W: Ice, Interior and Inhabitation


Nieboer, M, 80 08' S, 163 57' W: Ice, Interior and Inhabitation, HASSEG Conference 2017: Depths and Surfaces: Understanding the Antarctic Region through the Humanities and Social Sciences, 5-7 July 2017, Hobart, Tasmania (2017) [Conference Extract]

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80°08’ S, 163° 57’ W, on the vast surface of the Ross Ice Shelf, defined the location of the Bolling Advance Weather Base, the accommodation of Richard Byrd during the winter of 1934. These coordinates, however say nothing about the base’s relationship to the depths of the ice mass itself. While Antarctic stations of recent decades are climatically sealed off from their extreme environment, the huts of the earlier explorers were much more permeable structures. Byrd’s hut, uniquely, was deliberate built in the ice of the continent’s interior. This confined habitable pocket of air inside the ice, served as laboratory for scientific observations of atmospheric phenomena and for investigation into the expedition leader’s own psychological response to freezing solitude. Byrd’s hut, which is literally of the environment, offers the opportunity to investigate how Antarctica, as it challenges the human senses, alters a conventional understanding of interior space and the concept of interiority itself. This paper contributes to the short history of human habitation in Antarctica and thus to an emerging body of knowledge of human engagement with the continent. The study is informed by a close reading of the collaborative autobiography ‘Alone’ alongside archival research and architectural analysis. The sub-glacial interior of Byrd’s hut, I argue, is not only an observatory for the weather and the human psyche, but also for interior space itself.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:Antarctic humanities, interior theory, cultural studies
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural design
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Nieboer, M (Dr Miranda Nieboer)
ID Code:140630
Year Published:2017
Deposited By:Architecture and Design
Deposited On:2020-09-01
Last Modified:2020-10-26

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