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Brazilian Authorities To Rebuild Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station

The Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station was established back in February 1984 and is located in Admiralty Bay, on King George Island. The station was named after the Brazilian Navy Commander Luís Antônio de Carvalho Ferraz, who was a pioneer in terms of the Brazilian presence in Antarctica. Since Brazil did not had a program for the frozen continent back then, Ferraz traveled with the British exploration team. His efforts and achievements then led the Brazilian Government to create an "Antarctic Program" for the country, named PROANTAR.

PROANTAR coordinates research and the operational support for research in Antarctica and its main structures are the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station and a few seasonal field camps, as well as two icebreakers. The work performed on the Station is mostly linked to scientific research, reaching different subjects such as global warming (Ozone layer, UV radiation and so on) and the monitoring of birds and other live beings.

In February 2012, 28 years after its establishment, 70% of the Comandante Ferraz Station was destroyed by a fire originated in the machine room that housed the station's generators. Two Brazilian soldiers died and a third one was injured. Six months later the Station was fully dismantled and 800 tons of debris were shipped back to Brazil. The material damage was calculated in US$12.4 million, and the Government provided US$20 million for the construction of temporary buildings. This construction ended recently, in May 2013. The photo below, taken by researchers on the scene, shows the moment when the Station caught fire:

Before the end of that construction, the Brazilian Government announced the intention of building a new station from scratch. In order to do so, a public contest was opened in order to receive propositions. The bid was eventually won by Estúdio 41, an Brazilian architect firm established in Coritiba. The project presents a modern yet simple and functional design, which spreads around 3,200 m² (34,445 ft²) and has the capacity to accommodate 64 people in the Summer and 34 in the Winter.

The project also takes into account the challenges presented by living in such conditions as the ones found in Antarctica. The base will be set on adjustable pillars, making it possible to adjust according to the weather conditions. The Station will be powered by solar panels and ethanol burning and water treating systems are also planned.

The initial cost of the new Station was thought to be US$31 million, but is now set to reach almost US$48 million. The construction works should begin soon, with the Brazilian Navy expecting to operate on the new base by March 2015.

More pictures, plans and schematics of the new Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station can be found in these infographics (Portuguese text).