Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Notre Dame of the North – where science and religion meet

The Igloo Church is the most famous landmark of Inuvik and also its largest structure. It bears the same name as the famous Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. But the Igloo church is based on unique architectural design developed to meet the challenge of permafrost – a typical problem faced in the Arctic region. Most of the Arctic sits on permafrost – an uneven mixture of earth and ice which often reaches a depth of several hundred meters. If heated by the warmth of a building , permafrost melts unevenly and causes building foundations, roads and other structures to crack and collapse. That’s why most buildings on Inuvik are built on pilings, which raise the ground floor by a metre or so. This raised area is kept open to allow heat from the buildings to dissipate before it reaches the ground.

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