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

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 19:59 authored by Miranda NieboerMiranda Nieboer
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.



School of Creative Arts and Media



Place of publication

Hobart, Tasmania

Event title

HASSEG Conference 2017: Depths and Surfaces: Understanding the Antarctic Region through the Humanities and Social Sciences

Event Venue

Hobart, Tasmania

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in built environment and design; Expanding knowledge in human society

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