This paper proposes a comprehensive reference model to support planning and design of architectures and operations in extreme environments with general applications to more traditional settings. The model presents a holistic systems approach that addresses such factors as risk assessment, system-operations integration, logistics and safety. Special emphasis is directed to human factors, transportation, environmental responsibility and technology readiness.

The paper draws upon previous SICSA research and design projects that involve remote deployments. These venues include Arctic and Antarctic research stations, ocean facilities and habitats in outer space. Common considerations include long-term confinement, psychological isolation and special health and safety issues.


The Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) within the University of Houston's Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture has a long history of experience associated with comprehensive research, planning and design for habitation in extreme environments. These activities have involved human accommodations in space, offshore ocean facilities, polar research stations and shelters for disaster victims. Important issues common to these different settings include concerns about operational safety, efficient transportation to remote sites and rapid, easy means of construction under hostile climate conditions with constraints upon available labor, equipment and tools. Many of these projects apply advanced construction methods and material technologies that draw upon space program lessons. These and other more traditional architectural and planning pursuits also emphasize the use of energy-efficient and sustainable approaches to reduce operational costs and logistical resupply requirements.

Priority Service Market

SICSA is building upon its previous experiences with expanded attention to three general service markets that present similar needs and challenges:

  1. fossil fuel exploration and production operations;

  2. natural disaster management response applications;

  3. remote military theaters.

Particular emphasis is directed to site infrastructure and habitat accommodations for relatively substantial personnel populations ranging from hundreds to thousands of people where permanent, pre-existing facilities are lacking, and small, conventional tents or modular units are impractical. This plan responds to observed trends where petrochemical resources are being developed at increasingly remote, hostile locations; where tsunamis, hurricanes and other destructive natural forces are impacting large areas of increasing population densities; and where military troops are being deployed in remote parts of the world to confront growing terrorism threats.

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