Kyiv-based balbek bureau recently completed an art installation, dubbed ‘Home.Memories’, for the Vernadsky Research Base in Antarctica. Located on the island of Galindez, the project kickstarted in November 2021 when the studio was tasked to repurpose a defunct fuel tank at the Ukrainian Vernadsky (former British Faraday) research base. The installation, intended as a visual treat for the station staff and tourists, had to be easily assembled, resistant to severe weather conditions, and safe for more than 3,500 penguins living on the island.
More importantly, the final structure takes inspiration from the image of a traditional Ukrainian house; envisioning it as a ‘home away from home’ for polar researchers, the architects designed the installation based on a composite image of a Ukrainian rural house. ‘A thin detailed frame around the tank resembles a pencil sketch: as if someone, reminiscing, draws their childhood home from memory,’ notes the balbek bureau team.
To accompany the ‘Home.Memories’ installation, balbek bureau created a mini exposition with souvenirs from Ukraine, including a sample of the UNESCO-listed Kosiv painted ceramics and a lump of coal from the Donetsk region embedded in resin. The exhibition was later expanded with the help of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.
The project was commissioned by the National Antarctic Research Center and implemented with the support of the Silpo retail chain. Meanwhile, construction was handled by the Wonder Workshop bureau. The disassembled structure was delivered to the Vernadsky base in the spring of 2022, but the mounting was postponed due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In February 2023, balbek bureau’s CEO, architect Slava Balbek and the Wonder Workshop head Dmytro Zinoviev headed to Antarctica and completed the project.
Architects: Slava Balbek, Anastasiia Partyka, Alyona Tryhub; Production: Dmytro Zinoviev and the Wonder Workshop bureau; 3D artists: Nik K, Valerii Stefanov; Graphic designers: Dasha Levchuk, Oleksandra Zavada; Project manager: Arina Petrenko; Сopywriter: Taisiia Kudenko; Comms support: Yevheniia Ryzhak; Sculptor: Marusia Sinkevich; Project Year: 2023; Location: Vernadsky research base, Galindez Island, Antarctica; Photo credits: Slava Balbek; Photo retouching: Maryan Beresh;