23 January 2021

Construction in extreme environments at Rothera Research Station

The second stage of building a scientific support facility in Antarctica began this month.

Clearing snow
Construction team clearing snow to start work on building the new scientific support facility © BAS

To avoid the risk of introducing COVID-19 to British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station, the construction team spent two weeks in quarantine and had three Covid-19 tests prior to making the 11,000 kilometre voyage by ship.

A 20 person-plus team from BAM, Ramboll and Sweco is working on the second season of building the science and operations building. Construction can only take place during a short window during the Antarctic summer months. This season the team aims to complete the pre-cast concrete foundations, ground floor slab, rock anchors and stub columns, as well as drainage and the perimeter wall, before returning in December to complete the outer structure.

The new facility, named the Discovery Building, commemorates the discovery of Antarctica just over 200 years ago. The project is part of the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme (AIMP). Facilities include preparation areas for field expeditions, offices, a medical centre, recreational spaces and science workshops.

The Discovery Building has a weather focused design, with a thermally-efficient envelope to minimise energy use, along with heat recovery generators and photovoltaic solar panels. It also has a snow and wind deflector – the largest of its kind in Antarctica – to minimise time spent removing snow accumulation from around the building.