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Source: University of Canterbury

21 May 2021

Giulia Foscari / UNLESS have launched Antarctic Resolution, a multidisciplinary project co-authored by the world’s leading experts on the Antarctic, including five University of Canterbury academics, at the Biennale Architettura 2021.

  • Image courtesy of UNLESS © Delfino Sisto Legnani
Image courtesy of UNLESS © Delfino Sisto Legnani

Accounting for approximately 10% of the land mass of Planet Earth, Antarctica – first theorised by the ancient Greeks yet only ‘discovered’ after the Industrial Revolution – is a Global Commons we collectively neglect. Far from being a pristine natural landscape, the continent is a contested territory which conceals not only resources that might prove irresistible in a world with ever-increasing population growth but also scientific data crucial to inform future environmental policies.

The kilometres-thick stratum of ice that has accumulated on its bedrock for millions of years, equivalent to around 70% of the fresh water on our planet, represents both an indispensable resource for human survival and the greatest menace to global coastal settlements threatened by the rise in sea levels induced by anthropogenic global warming.

On the eve of the 200th anniversary of the first recorded sighting of Antarctica, Giulia Foscari / UNLESS invited over 200 specialists from the fields of architecture, biology, chemistry, climate science, engineering, geography, history, law, literature, logistics, medicine, physics, political science, sociology, technology, and the visual arts to join in a collective effort to produce the first holistic body of research on the continent and unveil the complexity of the natural and political forces concealed in 26 quadrillion tons of ice.

Contributors from Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury include: 

Antarctic Resolution advocates the rejection of the pixelated view of Antarctica offered to us by Big Data companies and urges the construction of a high-resolution image focusing on the continent’s unique geography, unparalleled scientific potential, contemporary geopolitical significance, experimental governance system, and extreme inhabitation model. 

Aspiring to broadcast knowledge on the continent and the Southern Ocean that surrounds it, provoke change, and ultimately mobilise future generations to undertake a true Antarctic resolution, the research reveals the intricate web of growing economic and strategic interests, tensions, and international rivalries that are deliberately enveloped in total darkness, as is the continent for six months per year.

The result of such collaborative effort, Antarctic Resolution, is premiered at “How will we live together?”, the 17th International Architecture Exhibition curated by Hashim Sarkis, Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Exhibited within the Central Pavilion of the Giardini della Biennale, the research – which preludes to a publication edited by Giulia Foscari / UNLESS which will be released for the occasion – is presented alongside the symbolic Heroic Age snow goggles worn by Captain Scott while man-hauling across the Antarctic and the pioneering Antarctic Suit designed by D-Air Lab in collaboration with UNLESS as a portable environment which enables survival on the hostile white desert.

The collective call for action is amplified, within the exhibition, by the alarming soundscape produced by Arcangelo Sassolino’s 250 times per second, a performative installation informed by scientific data provided by David Vaughan (lead glaciologist for the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration), that powerfully denounces the accelerated thinning of the cryosphere and rise in global sea level.

Learning from Antarctica’s spirit of cooperation, built upon the total reliance on one another to survive, with Antarctic Resolution UNLESS aspires to launch a platform, an agency for change, in which planetary citizens can engage in a coordinated and unanimous effort – independent of nation – to shape the future of Antarctica, and, in turn, of our planet.

Press release shared with permission.

About Antarctic Resolution Publication

Antarctic Resolution is the first publication on the Antarctic that attempts to offer a multidisciplinary high-resolution image of our southernmost continent. Edited by Giulia Foscari / UNLESS, and co-authored by 150 polar leading experts, the volume presents the collective research in the form of authored texts, photographic essays, and data-based visual portfolios. Articulated in three main sections – focussing on geopolitics, science, and architecture – the publication includes the first census of Antarctic architectures, conceived as an open access archive which fosters a reduction of the contaminating anthropogenic footprint on the continent.
Title: Antarctic Resolution
Editor: Giulia Foscari / UNLESS
Authors: 150 interdisciplinary specialists
Publisher: Lars Müller Publishers
Editorial assistant: Federica Zambeletti
Design: Giulia Foscari / UNLESS with Integral Lars Müller
Printing: Grafiche Antiga, Italy
20 × 26.4 cm, 1000 pages
Hardcover, English
2021, ISBN 978-3-03778-640-6

About the Editor / Exhibitor

Giulia Foscari Widmann Rezzonico is an architect, researcher and writer who has been practising in Europe, Asia and the Americas. She is the founder of UNA, an architecture studio focussed on cultural projects, and of its alter ego UNLESS, a non-profit agency for change devoted to interdisciplinary research on extreme environments threatened by the planetary crisis. Foscari’s past work experience includes an extensive collaboration with Rem Koolhaas/OMA which started in Hong Kong and led her to run OMA’s South American platform, and with Zaha Hadid Architects. She is partner of the architecture office FWR Associati, and member of the International Council of the MoMA. Her work was exhibited in multiple editions of the International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Foscari taught at Hong Kong University and at the Architectural Association, where she ran a Diploma Unit and founded The Polar Lab. She authored Elements of Venice and is the editor of Antarctic Resolution (Lars Müller Publishers).

UNLESS is a non-profit agency for change that brings together interdisciplinary experts to conduct research on extreme environments threatened by the planetary crisis. Founded by Giulia Foscari, UNLESS’ collaborative practice engages specialists from the fields of architecture, biology, chemistry, climate science, engineering, geography, history, law, literature, logistics, medicine, physics, political science, sociology, technology, and the visual arts. UNLESS’ pilot project, Antarctic Resolution, led to the foundation of The Polar Lab, the agency’s transnational academic platform co-directed by Francesco Bandarin, Sol Camacho, Juan Du, Giulia Foscari, Arturo
Lyon, and Florencia Rodriguez. Based in Hamburg and Venice, UNLESS operates alongside its alter ego, UNA.