The Government of Chile has called out for bids to build what will be known as the International Antarctic Center (CAI) in Punta Arenas, it was abbounced in Santiago. The US$-80-million development is expected to foster research on Antarctic matters to position that location as the country's main gateway to Antarctica.
The Magallanes Region has been working for years on the development of Antarctic research and on strengthening its strategic position as the closest platform to access the Antarctic continent, Public Works Minister Juan Carlos García said.
The Ministry will also ensure that the CAI is not only an emblematic work in urban terms, but [that it] also becomes a global landmark that concentrates much of the scientific and logistical activity related to Antarctica, García also pointed out.
The project will be financed by the Regional Government and includes the construction of 32,930 square meters (21,938 m2 of building and 10,992 m2 of outdoor works) for six development areas: a laboratory and research building, an interactive center and museum, a logistics area, an administration building, and access and urbanization areas (parking lots, landscaping and heliport).
It will also have a research area with modern laboratories specialized in subjects such as ice, atmosphere, and ocean; ecology and evolution; geology, paleontology, and paleoclimate; biotechnology; and modeling and bioinformatics.
The interactive sector for visitors will have attractions such as aquariums, a planetarium, an Antarctic forest, and air-conditioned rooms that replicate the experience of being on the frozen continent.
In addition, there will be an auditorium for 600 people, a restaurant, a cafeteria, a bookstore and souvenir store, and an esplanade available for events.
Chilean National Antarctic Institute (Inach) Director Marcelo Leppe underlined that 23 countries now use Punta Arenas as a gateway to Antarctica in a normal year and this platform and this statement are very important, and what we are basically saying is that we are going to concentrate the main Antarctic activities, logistics, science, tourism and education in one place, and that place is Sandy Point, which was historically a reference point for ships arriving through the Strait [of Magellan].
Public Works Regional Secretary Dahián Oyarzún highlighted the project was undoubtedly a great engineering challenge that considers building on the coastline.
This project is linked to the structuring roads of the sector, is close to the port and provides infrastructure designed to facilitate adequate access to the public, she added.
The call has already been published in the Official Gazette so that both Chilean and foreign companies can register in a Special Contractors' Register by June 7. On November 14, the opening of the economic bids will take place. If there is a winner that needs no re-evaluation, construction could start in the first quarter of 2023 and last until 2026.