Photograph by James Morris

A New Design for Antarctic Research

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    The new Halley VI Antarctic Research Station, the first fully-relocatable research station, launched this year and was designed by Hugh Broughton Architects with AECOM for British Antarctic Survey (BAS). The station's predecessor, Halley V, had drifted too far from mainland and became endangered of calving with an iceberg. BAS organized an international competition in 2004 to select designers for Halley VI, and a modular design was conceived by the winners, HBA.

    According to information provided by the architects, the modules are supported on giant steel skis and hydraulically driven legs. The legs allow the station to rise up out of the snow to avoid being buried, and as the ice shelf moves out towards the ocean, the modules can be lowered onto the skis and towed to a new, safer location further inland.

    Photograph by James Morris
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    The new station, which cost $39,517,000 to build, is positioned perpendicular to the prevailing wind so that snow drifts form behind the station (the leeward side) which reduces the need for snow management. Temperatures drop to -70°F and the site is regularly buffeted by winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. The base is split in two for life safety; each half has its own energy center and is self-sustaining in case of emergency. A bridge link allows sharing of power, drainage and water.

    Photograph by James Morris
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    A research station has been occupied continuously at Halley since 1957 and in 1985 scientists working there first observed the springtime depletion in stratospheric ozone, known as the hole in the ozone layer. The station is located on the 500-foot thick Brunt Ice Shelf, which is flowing at 1,300 feet each year out to sea. The Halley VI station has an internal floor area of about 16,000 square feet and contains medical operating facilities, air traffic control systems, energy generation and full human support facilities. It is a self-supporting, infrastructure-free community.

    Photograph by James Morris
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    The dining area in the central module has timber veneer walls which give off natural scents, intended to remind the station's residents of nature, living in an environment without plants.

    Photograph by James Morris
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    The meteorological observatory, on the upper level of the science module.

    Photograph by James Morris
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    The station's bar sits next to a natural-light atrium, with a billiard table visible in the background.

    Photograph by James Morris
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    A spiral staircase sits at the heart of the central module.

    Photograph by James Morris
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    The TV and meeting room feature a cockpit window on the upper level of the central module. Both the station's exterior and interior design reimagine living and working conditions as well as sustainability in the polar regions which are home to some of the most significant scientific research conducted on the planet.

    Photograph by James Morris