Halley VI Antarctic Research Station

CompanyHugh Broughton Architecrs
Lead DesignerHugh Broughton Architects
Design TeamAECOM Galliford Try International
PrizeGold in Architectural Design / Other Architecture

Halley is the UK’s most southerly research station and is located on the 490ft thick floating Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, which moves 1300 feet per annum towards the sea. Snow levels rise by 3 feet every year, and the sun does not rise for 105 days during winter. Temperatures drop to -69ºF and winds blow in excess of 100mph. Access by ship and plane is limited to a 3-month summer window. All components for the new base had to be delivered across fragile sea ice, which can fracture at any time. The international competition winning design was developed in response to the science, the comfort of residents, buildability, the climate and snow drifting predictions. To meet these demands it was crucial to maximize flexibility. This was achieved with a modular approach. Highly insulated steel framed GRP clad modules are used for a wide variety of activities ranging from laboratories and bedrooms to recreation areas and energy centers. The light filled open plan two-story red module provides the social heart of the new station. Within the modules a myriad of interior design features, characterized by a fastidious attention to detail, were developed to help support the 16-person crew through the long dark winters. To avoid the fate of previous abandoned stations, the modules are supported on giant steel skis and hydraulically driven legs that allow the station to mechanically ‘climb’ up out of the snow every year. And as the ice shelf moves out towards the ocean, the modules can be lowered and towed by bulldozers further inland, and eventually taken apart when the time comes. Halley VI is a visitor to Antarctica, not a resident.