Extreme environments - Design and human factors considerations

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: The starting point of this research is based on my experience at SICSA performing research and design for extreme environments, including orbital and lunar planetary facilities, disaster shelters, polar stations and offshore surface and submersible habitats. This thesis explores what aspects and issues of design and planning processes in extreme environments have to be addressed in a similar way and therefore may be used as a basis for further work toward PhD thesis to develop a methodological planning tool or matrix. That "tool" will be proposed for the purpose of facilitating a dialogue between all parties involved during developments in extreme conditions of Polar Regions. This work investigates both sides of any activity's planning process for Polar Regions: physical conditions and human factors and as an important part of the latter – possible human error complications. The complexity of the problem calls for a multi-disciplinary approach where the many facets of sustainability have to be also addressed. Dealing with the difficulty of combining multiple components is a role for an architect as a facilitator for a dialogue between all actors involved in development activities in extreme environments. Although requirements and hardships specific to diverse extreme environments are outlined at the beginning of the text, the study is later more focused on polar and boreal sites and based on two case studies located there. The text is also based on an overview of related to research problem technical papers, discussions with professionals about their work experience with projects in extreme conditions, and students' workshops debating strategies to form sustainable behavior and design practices. This study finds that an interdisciplinary, comprehensive approach includes highlighting influences upon general habitat requirements, and constraints upon delivery, construction, and special provisions for safety and hazard intervention. Optimization of such design requirements based on a summary of design considerations will be a key element for future development of systematic planning approach. In summary, the next steps of the research advancement are outlined; emphasizing the importance of equal attention to all elements of the project development, including human factors and psychological aspects, in design and planning processes. Such an approach is essential to enable successful sustainable development and maintenance practices.

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