Svalbard University Research Centre
Svalbard is special not only because of its extreme northern location at 78º North. The cluster of barren islands in the Arctic Ocean has always been a bit of a grey area in terms of nationality, but has -since 1925- been acknowledged by some countries as part of Norway. The new and architecturally ambitious Norwegian expansion at Svalbard University should be seen against the background of Norway's need to consolidate its presence and its claim to the 200 km fishing zone - much to Russian annoyance. The Svalbard Research Centre is actually a 400% extension of an existing university building, creating an indoor campus between laboratories, workshops, offices, library and the Svalbard Museum. Like all Svalbardian buildings, the polygonal volume hovers above the ground on pillars so as not to disturb the permafrost-sealed soil on which its foundations rest. The copper-clad structure proved to be unexpectedly amenable to climatic and programmatic changes.