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Solving arctic challenges

The ROCKWOOL Group provides optimal thermal solutions in the world’s northernmost observatory in Ny-Alesund, Svalbard, Norway.

The Veidekke Arctic Geodetic Earth Observatory, which is part of a worldwide research network, will contribute to more accurate climate monitoring and is the northernmost observatory on the planet.

The project consists of 3 main buildings, interconnected via a series of footbridges – crucial during the harsh arctic winter storms. The overall design of the construction was focussed to combat this problem, with any solution needing to be capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions in a brutally cold environment, while the unique shape of the construction also offered up an unusual challenge. 

The buildings are designed with multiple sloping walls, complex angles and awkward joints, causing problems for more traditional methods of insulation. As a result, ROCKWOOL insulation was chosen as a means to entirely cover the inclined walls in a manner similar to a roof structure.

“ROCKWOOL HardRock offers an easily adaptable solution whereby the insulation can be cut and carved into the specific shapes needed to encapsulate the whole structure, minimising the risk of thermal bridges” Børge Dønland, District Manager for ROCKWOOL Scandinavia says.

The insulation fitted to the walls of the buildings, which amounts to a total of 280mm thick, is actually a combination of two layers: 100mm of ROCKWOOL Substrates ENERGY with an additional 180mm ROCKWOOL HardRock. A similar approach was applied to the ceiling of the buildings, and the unique technique further solidifies the thermal capacity of the structure, ensuring the facility can operate properly in the harsh arctic conditions.

The non-combustible properties of ROCKWOOL insulation also improve fire-safety in the buildings, giving workers and visitors the time needed to escape if ever a fire developed on site.

The Veidekke Arctic Observatory is due for completion later this year, with operations scheduled to begin sometime in 2016.