Modern North: Architecture on the Frozen Edge
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The geographic region around the North Pole is a raw and exotic area of untouched nature and inescapable beauty. Unique among the Earth's ecosystems, it includes both a vast, ice-covered ocean and a treeless region of tundra. Building in this extremely cold climate requires an advanced degree of ingenuity and resolve. Ecological conditions including high winds, snowdrifts, and permafrost, combined with periods of little or no sunlight, present seemingly impossible logistical hurdles. Recent years have witnessed an explosion of resident and invited architects creating buildings above 60 degrees latitude. The time has come for a new definition of a northern building—one that isboth extraordinarily responsive to place and aesthetically provocative.
In Modern North, author Julie Decker presents thirty-four of the most compelling and far-ranging possibilities of contemporary architecture in the North. These buildings—located in northern Canada, Scandinavia, and Alaska—are united in the way they embrace extreme conditions. Rather than shut themout, these conditions are welcomed and often formed into the buildings' structures and materials, as in the way architecture is employed to mediate the harshness of the low-lying sun without replacing it with the harshness of artificial lights. The architects of Modern North exploit the natural topography to provide visual stimulation in places that sometimes offer little more than a whitescape. Modern North includes innovative institutional and residential structures by both established and up-and-coming architects, including a-lab, David Chipperfield, Jarmund/Vigsnæs, Studio Granda, Shim-Sutcliffe, and Snøhetta. Essays by Brian Carter, Juhani Pallasmaa, Edwin Crittenden, and Lisa Rochon place the projects in the context of a new architectural response to the North.
extreme tides and climate of Cook Inlet. Ten-foot ceiling heights and floor-to-ceiling windows emphasize these perspectives while enhancing light and transparency. The house sits on a pie-shaped lot— less than ideal for a traditional house—with a narrow footprint influenced by the clients’ and architects’ desire to spare two mature trees during construction. Though limited by these site constraints, the house’s east-west orientation takes advantage of the southern exposure. Because the occupants
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facade, with views of the city beyond 83 1 2 84 3 Skrudas Residence 4 1 South facade facing courtyard 2 The top floor of the house offers views north and south. 3 Interior corridor with concrete, wood, and stone 5 The low ceiling of the entry opens up to the double-height limestoneclad family room. 4 The upstairs living room affords panoramic views of the capital region and Atlantic Ocean. 5 Studio Granda 85 6 Second-floor plan 6 7 Section 8 First-floor plan 9 clockwise from
designing the Longyearbyen Research Centre, a research facility located on the shores of the Advent fjord. The 91,500-square-foot polygonal complex creates an indoor campus that accommodates a rapidly growing international faculty, staff, and student body. Svalbard University is located on the western coast of Spitzbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago. The islands support fishing and tourism as their major economic engines, among other industries. The university is the
permafrost-sealed soil on which its foundations rest. The expansive glazed aperture of the building’s spruce-paneled central atrium expresses the center’s mission to observe and explore the arctic environment. There is an absolute premium placed on light, thermal control, and durability in architecture built in cold climates. The insulated copper-clad skin creates an outer shell that is adjusted to the flows of wind and snow passing through the site. Climatic 3-D simulations were conducted during