Home » Rothera Research Station: Exterior added to new Antarctic facility

Rothera Research Station: Exterior added to new Antarctic facility

by Liam Turner
The exterior and operations tower being added to the Rothera Research Station

A new scientific and operational support facility at Rothera Research Station in the Antarctic has been fitted with external cladding and an operations tower.

BAM has now completed four years of challenging construction on the new Discovery Building for the British Antarctic Survey.

The team of around 54 on-site construction team members have been facing harsh weather conditions to complete this season’s programme of works before their planned departure this month.

When complete, the Discovery Building will replace several older buildings at Rothera Research Station and will support science in the region for at least the next 50 years.

The large (4,500m2) two-storey building enables scientific support and operations functions to work together under one roof.

Sustainable credentials

The work is part of the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation programme (AIMP), a long-term government investment for future polar science, commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (UKRI-NERC).

The new science and operations facility is designed to make sure the long-term impact on the environment is minimal and meets British Antarctic Survey’s net-zero ambitions by 2040.

The new combined heat and power plant is expected to cut carbon emissions for the entire research station at Rothera by 25%.

The building will also feature photovoltaic solar panels, a thermally efficient building envelope, and triple glazing.

The Discovery Building will feature an innovative wind deflector to minimise the accumulation of snow around the building and an operations tower to provide 360-degree views of the runway, wharf, and station buildings.

The partnership includes construction partner BAM, design consultants Sweco, and Hugh Broughton Architects providing delivery design.

Ramboll is acting as technical advisors, with Norr Architects providing concept design, OFR providing fire consultancy, and Turner & Townsend providing cost and commercial advice.

The team plans to return in November 2023 for the next season of construction.

The building is due to be completed in 2025.

‘Challenging but rewarding’

Rothera Research Station is the UK’s largest Antarctic research and operations hub that supports leading researchers from the UK and abroad.

It is hoped that the new Discovery Building will enable the UK to continue to deliver “cutting-edge” climate, biodiversity, and ocean research and innovative science in Antarctica.

Elen Jones, AIMP programme director at BAS, said: “To personally see the commencement of the cladding and then continue watching the Discovery Building take shape over the course of this season and ultimately achieve weathertightness as planned, is a major milestone of which the British Antarctic Survey and partners are truly proud of and is testament to our collaborative approach to infrastructure project delivery in Antarctica.

“Thank you and well done to everyone at Rothera for their cooperation and support during this challenging but rewarding construction season.”

Graham Hopper, project director at BAM, said: “Reaching this milestone safely on such a complex construction project in such an extreme environment, is testament to the dedication and motivation of the highly skilled project teams within BAM, BAS, Ramboll, and SWECO, and our supply chain partners.

“All have my thanks and admiration and should take great pride in both this achievement and in how they have collaboratively integrated within this remote research station, and facilitated continuity of BAS Science and operations.”

Hugh Broughton, director at Hugh Broughton Architects, said: “The Discovery Building will become a remarkable platform for polar science.

“The sustainable multi-functional facility will provide flexible space to support BAS’s activities and enhance the well-being of people living and working in an extreme, remote location.

“The works completed this season demonstrate the benefits of a collaborative approach to design and construction and are a testament to the skill and perseverance of a committed team, working on the project in Antarctica and in the UK.”

Main image: The exterior and operations tower being added to the Rothera Research Station. Credit: British Antarctic Survey

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