Punta Arenas International Antarctic Center Receives Approval in Chile

In 2017 the team led by Chilean architects Alberto Moletto, Cristóbal Tirado, Sebastián Hernández, and Danilo Lagos was selected as the winners of the International Antarctic Center (CAI) design competition, a unique landmark planned for Punta Arenas, a city at the deep south of Chile.

Four years later, Chile’s Ministry of Social Development has given the green light to the 33,000-square-meter (355,200-square-foot) project after reviewing the technical requirements, as local media reported on August 3.

Image © Alberto Moletto + Cristóbal Tirado + Sebastián Hernández + Danilo Lagos
Image © Alberto Moletto + Cristóbal Tirado + Sebastián Hernández + Danilo Lagos

Following the technical approval, local authorities will be able to follow the process to obtain public financing through ministerial funds and the Regional Government, as reported by Cooperativa. Raúl Irarrázabal, National Director of Architecture of the Ministry of Public Works, stated to Chilean newspaper LUN that they expect the bidding rules for its construction to be published by February 2022.

Image © Alberto Moletto + Cristóbal Tirado + Sebastián Hernández + Danilo Lagos
Image © Alberto Moletto + Cristóbal Tirado + Sebastián Hernández + Danilo Lagos

The CAI will be an advanced research center in Antarctic sciences and will feature an interactive museum, an ancient forest with living species that existed prior to the Antarctic freezing, an aquarium with Antarctic and subantarctic living species, an immersive room 360°, an Antarctic 15°C-Experience Room (5°F)and an auditorium that can host up to 600 people.

Aquarium. Image © Alberto Moletto + Cristóbal Tirado + Sebastián Hernández + Danilo Lagos
Aquarium. Image © Alberto Moletto + Cristóbal Tirado + Sebastián Hernández + Danilo Lagos

Back in 2017, the design competition brief stated that the goal of the iconic project is “to consolidate the position of Chile as an Antarctic country and Punta Arenas as the main gateway city to West Antarctica.”

According to LUN, the CAI will be managed by the University of Magallanes and the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH) and could be open to public use in 2025.