AA Polar Lab AA Polar Lab. Image by Pomo

AA POLAR LAB / Antarctica 200

Human presence in Antarctica is an achievement that is approaching its 200th Anniversary. The rapid transformation of the polar region under the effects of global warming and the unchartered nature of most of the continent urges the necessity to research and document the extreme Southern territory with critical tools of analysis and representation.

Antarctica 200 is a cross-disciplinary project conceived to shed light on a continent that lies in the dark six months per year. In preparation to the 2020 anniversary, the project aims to research the evolution of Antarctic architecture (from whaler’s shelters to the hyper-advanced contemporary scientific stations), analyse the logistic and technological challenges of building in such an extreme environment, assess the physical and psychological consequences of polar inhabitation, and map the geopolitical, economic and environmental implications of the Antarctic Treaty System. The ambition is to unveil the unique traits of this exceptional continent laboratory, asses its indisputable role in the global ecosystem, understand the conflicting and fragile Antarctic policies, and produce a body of research that will be debated at the Antarctica 200 World Conference, at the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale, and will ultimately be disseminated in the form of a Publication.

The AA Polar Lab is the primary research platform of Antarctica 200. Directed by Giulia Foscari and Francesco Bandarin, the programme relies on the close collaboration of a group of global experts from the fields of architecture, engineering, science, glaciology, international law, anthropology, literature and art.
Acting as a catalyst for dedicated international academic outposts – in Chile, Argentina, Brasil, Russia and China – the London based AA Polar Lab will build upon the Greek abstract conceptualization of Antarctica and the 20th century imperial quest of mapping the continent, in an attempt to by-pass the contemporary hyper mediated and under theorized understanding of the continent to produce a comprehensive Antarctic Atlas.

The program will curate monthly events, ranging from lectures, seminars, workshop and visiting schools. Details on the upcoming events are regularly uploaded in the AA What’s On.

AA Polar Lab Directors

Giulia Foscari W. R. is an Architect, Curator and Author who has been practicing in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. She is the founder of UNA, a Hamburg-based international architecture practice focused on cultural projects, and a partner of Foscari Widmann Rezzonico Associati, in Venice. Ongoing building projects include the design of two Contemporary Art Foundations in Italy. Her working experience includes an extensive collaboration with the Office for Metropolitan Architecture , OMA. In parallel to practicing architecture, Giulia curated numerous exhibitions and taught at Hong Kong University (2007-2011) and at the Architectural Association, where she ran Diploma 15 - the AA Museum Lab - between 2015 and 2018. Giulia’s recent publications include “Elements of Venice”, a book published by Lars Müller Publishers which was awarded the DAM Architectural Book Award.

Francesco Bandarin is an Architect and Urban Planner, specialized in Urban Conservation. From 2000 to 2010 he was Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Secretary of the World Heritage Convention. From 2010 to 2018 he served as Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Culture. He is currently Special Advisor for heritage for UNESCO. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, member of ICOMOS-Italy and an Associate of ICOMOS International Scientific Polar Committee. Francesco has been Professor of Urban Planning and Urban Conservation at the University of Venice (IUAV) from 1980 to 2016. His recent publications include: Reconnecting the City. The Historic Urban Landscape Approach and the Future of Urban Heritage, 2015, co-authored with Ron van Oers and published by Wiley-Blackwell.


The Architectural Association, Inc. is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee (No.171402) and registered as a charity (No. 311083). Registered office: 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES, 020 7887 4000

Click here to read the AA’s latest review report.

Click here to read the AA’s latest action plan.