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Design Competition for new Antarctic Research Station


Tension is mounting for three teams of architects and engineers who are competing for the design of the new British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Halley Research Station. The winning team will be announced on Tuesday 19 July.

The Jury Panel and technical advisory team have a difficult choice to select just one from three stunning solutions. Each proposal is designed to withstand Antarctica’s extreme environment. Each scheme is elevated above the ice to avoid burial by snow; and is capable of being relocated inland periodically as the ice shelf flows towards the sea. In addition to the huge engineering and technical challenges posed by building on a floating ice shelf, each team has demonstrated their creative and aesthetic expertise to design a stimulating living and working environment that is safe, comfortable and sensitive to BAS requirements for energy efficiency and protection of Antarctica’s pristine environment.

An exhibition of all three schemes will be on display at RIBA from 19 July-6 August. Preview images are available on

The three finalists are listed below in alphabetical order with the lead consultant for each team named first:

Buro Happold Ltd/Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands/Garrad Hassan & Partners Ltd/SLR Consulting Ltd/Human Engineering. This team has come up with three robust yet delicate fabric-covered craft that apparently ‘hover’ on legs above the ice. Glowing translucent skin encloses generously-proportioned interiors defined by specially-fabricated walls of integral furniture; these can be reconfigured to create a flexible, stimulating environment for scientific research and a welcoming, low-maintenance home that enhances the science and support team’s wellbeing.

Faber Maunsell and Hugh Broughton’s modular system, elevated on ski-based jackable legs, can be towed across the ice. The modules are simple to construct and can be re-arranged or relocated to suit the changing needs of the science programmes. The space age-looking station will be packed with stimulating areas for recreation and relaxation. It features renewable energy sources and new environmentally contained strategies for fuel, waste and material handling.

Hopkins Architects/Expedition Engineering/Atelier Ten/Davis & Langdon have designed two aerodynamic, elevated ‘walking’ buildings that minimise effort of raising, snow-management and relocation. External walls, surrounded with a ‘puffer jacket’ of structural fabric pillows, streamline the building and provide additional insulation. The team believe the quality of architecture is crucial to the wellbeing, morale and productivity of science and support staff living and working at Halley.

Linda Capper | alfa
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