Location: Thule Air Base, Greenland
Thule Air Base, Greenland is located 940 miles from the North Pole, within the Arctic Circle. The Base experiences extreme climatic conditions, including minus 60 degree arctic temperatures and 150 mile per hour winds.
Much of the existing building stock at the Base lacks distinction, presenting a character of unadorned, rectangular metal boxes. To introduce a sense of identity at the Base, the new 40,000 square foot dormitory is designed in a modern Danish vocabulary, complementing the native vernacular of Greenland. This aesthetic includes the use of bold primary colors to make buildings stand apart from the white or gray environment. The dormitory applies the new “4 + 4” module design standard, creating a three-floor facility. Amenities include a large day room with kitchen facilities, a third floor multi-purpose recreational area, and an outdoor barbeque/seating area for the few summer months.
Life in the arctic is difficult, especially for people accustomed to the relatively mild climate of the continental United States. To make the living conditions more palatable, the design team worked with Space Command to justify additional square footage over that programmed, allowing for the addition of amenities such as additional living space and an interior vestibule.
Many aspects of the design mitigate the extreme climate conditions. The entire dormitory is an enclosed structure. Unlike most new dormitories, the building is elevated above the permafrost. The parking area features engine block heaters for military automobiles. Rather than landscaping typical to the continental United States, arctic xeriscaping consisting of rock landscaping is utilized, appropriate to the climate and wind conditions.