Even under the best circumstances, the practice of architecture is a challenging proposition. Now imagine designing structures for one of the harshest places on earth. That was the task Hugh Broughton, of Hugh Broughton Architects, faced in creating a new Antarctic research station on the Brunt Ice Shelf.
“The brief for Halley VI provided us with some enormous design challenges: to create the first ever fully re-locatable research station ever built in the polar regions which could cope with constantly rising snow levels and provide a stimulating working and living environment for a winter crew isolated from the world for nine months at a time and subjected to three months of total darkness. Add to that the freezing temperatures and high winds, and it was clear a special solution was necessary,” says Broughton.
Working in close collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey (the group whose research first identified the whole in the ozone layer), as well as AECOM, the firm created a series of eight hydraulically elevated ski-based modules that can be rearranged based on the needs of the scientists in residence. The seven interconnected blue modules, constructed by Galliford Try, function as bedrooms, laboratories, offices and energy plants. A red two-story red module serves as a social area. As the ice it sits on shifts, the modules can be moved and reconfigured in more secure locations.
Think you’re up for an Antarctic challenge of your own? The Institute of Architects of Brazil (IAB) and the Brazilian navy recently launched a contest to renovate the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station on King George Island’s Keller Peninsula, where it’s home to a naval and research staff that ranges from over 30 to over 60. Besides either replacing or renovating all the buildings on the site, the winning project will incorporate a range of new, efficient technologies to create a complex that is livable and sustainable. If you’re interested, the deadline for entries is March 14. More details are here. Good luck and stay warm!