Architecture for the South
29 Jul 2005
A string of buildings reminiscent of a caterpillar on skis has won a design competition for the new Halley VI science station in Antarctica.
The British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge held a contest for eco-friendly designs that could withstand the extreme conditions at the Waddell Sea: 145-kilometer-per-hour winds, an average temperature of -30ºC, and three sunless months a year. The new station also had to be mobile to avoid the fate of the existing one, which is on an ice shelf that is moving toward the sea at about 400 meters a year and that may calve off in the next decade.
The winner, from Faber Maunsell and Hugh Broughton Architects, features two wings joined by a large recreational center. Amenities include a climbing wall, hydroponics for growing salad greens, panoramic windows, and quarters for 52 people. The modules are easy to reconfigure, the designers say, and the interior has “strong, cheerful colors carefully selected with the help of a color psychologist” to keep away the polar blues. The retractable legs can step up to stay on top of new-fallen snow and are fitted with skis so the station can be towed away from the sea.
Construction on the new station, designed to last 20 years, should start in January 2007.