This bizarre looking creature is the world’s first relocatable research facility. Located on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, the Halley VI Research Station was officially opened on Tuesday, more than one hundred years after Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctic expeditions.
More on the building and its uncommon features after the break…
Eight years in the making, the design arose from a competition held by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) which was won by Hugh Broughton Architects. Together with with AECOM and construction firm Galliford Try, they had to re-think the concept of a building to overcome the unique set of challenges they faced.
There have been five Halley Research Stations on the Brunt Ice Shelf since 1957; the first four of these were buried by snow and ice over time, until eventually, they were crushed by the weight and had to be abandoned.
The previous station, 20-year old Haley V, was demolished and removed over the growing risk that ice, on which it was located, could break off in the coming years. The 150 meter thick ice shelf is flowing towards the sea at a rate of 0.4 km per year where, at irregular intervals, it calves off as vast icebergs.
The new Halley VI is built with hydraulically elevated, ski-based modules allowing it to rise above the meters of annual snowfall, and be periodically rearranged or relocated inland as the ice-shelf moves.
The current suite is comprised of seven interlinking blue sections, in a straight line, which house bedrooms, laboratories, offices and energy plants. At the center of this, there is a spacious two-story red module featuring a brightly lit, double-height social space where crews can spend their downtime.
Crew numbers at the Halley station range from 52 in summer to 16 during the winter, where three months of total darkness mean temperatures can drop as low as -56C.
The grueling construction process had to be carried out during four Antarctic summers – each year they had only nine weeks, meaning the construction teams worked round the clock in the freezing conditions.
The Brunt Ice Shelf is a region important for studying the Earth’s magnetic field and the near-space atmosphere; it was data from Halley V that led to the 1985 BAS discovery of the ozone hole.