Flying saucer set for Antarctic landing

September 10, 1999

Italy's new Antarctic research station will be designed by Pininfarina, the legendary car designer, in the shape of a classic 1950s sci-fi flying saucer. It will be built partly by boatyards specialising in America's Cup racing.

The project is the brainchild of Francesco Stochino Weiss, a television producer and classical music specialist who took Zubin Mehta and Jose Carreras to Sarajevo during the Bosnia war. "I took the idea to Pininfarina, who did the design, and persuaded them and the other companies involved that they could build the station as a non-profit venture with good results in terms of corporate image," Stochino said.

"The steel structure is being built by a firm near Rome, the special argon-treated glass comes from a company in northern Italy that makes glass for the Stealth bomber, and the special carbon-

fibre panels are being made by a factory and a boatyard that work on high-tech racing yachts."

The Antarctic "flying saucer" will be 26 metres in diameter and will weigh 150 tonnes. It will be able to house 24 scientists year-round on the Bay of Terra Nova.

"This will be the largest base in Antarctica and a dramatic step ahead from the primitive steel containers now being used," Stochino said. Pininfarina will pay the full cost of the base, which should be only about Pounds 1.2 million because there are no profits. The base should be inaugurated in January 2001 with, Stochino hopes, an operatic concert in Antarctica, with profits from television rights funding environmental research.

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