Unrelenting winter nights and endless summer days. Temperatures that can plummet to 120 below or more. Snow, ice, and rock. There are few environments on earth more hostile than the frozen Antarctic wastelands. But even with winds of up to nearly 200 mph, it’s not impossible for people to survive in the coldest place on the planet.
In fact, humans are able to live in almost every world climate, driest deserts and densest jungles included—and it helps if you’ve got the right kind of shelter.
With permanent bases from countries all over the world, there are a number of approaches to building design in the harsh Antarctic region. Construction company Misawa Homes, which built most of the Antarctic facilities for the Japanese government’s Showa Station, opted for single-shell housing technology — useful when trying to keep out some of the coldest temperatures on earth.
On the other end of the climate spectrum, rainforests demand a much different approach to adaptive construction. One house in the outskirts of São Paulo, Brazil, is specially built to its jungle environment. The Iporanga “tree house” stands three stories tall, is partially wrapped in glass walls, and is tightly nestled into the forest, with the trees all but scraping the windows. The house, with its modest use of concrete and steel, plays chameleon by blending into the leaves which surround it.
Read on for more about these and other homes built for extreme climates:
Frozen Wasteland Cocoons
East Ongul Island, Antarctica
Outdoors, the thermometer reads 80 below and the winds whirl at 120 mph. Indoors, it’s toasty warm. The ultimate in form following way behind function, these Antarctic boxes are also wrapped in a “single shell,” with features to withstand the most unforgiving climactic conditions on the planet. With a design based on the company’s wooden-panel adhesion system, the polar dwellings are built to take an estimated 100 years of Antarctic punishment.