Construction Works Begin on Hugh Broughton's Discovery Building at Rothera Research Station in Antarctica

Construction Works Begin on Hugh Broughton's Discovery Building at Rothera Research Station in Antarctica

A new building in Antarctica breaks ground at the Rothera Research Station. Designed by Hugh Broughton Architects, the project commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), aims to facilitate the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) ongoing climate-related research.

Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica by the British, the new facility “will enable a world-leading capability to ensure that Britain remains at the forefront of climate, biodiversity and ocean research in the Polar Regions”. In fact, the operations building, named The Discovery Building, scheduled for completion in 2023, is a two-storey 4,500m2 structure that will accommodate preparation areas for field expeditions, a central store, medical facility, offices, recreational spaces, workshops and areas for plants. The interior space features open-plan workspaces, vibrant colours, natural light, and transparent glazed screens in order to create a practical place for researchers.

Rothera. Image Courtesy of Hugh Broughton Architects

Rothera Research Station, operating since 1975, is located at the southern extremity of Adelaide Island, supporting all BAS operations and scientific research in Antarctica. Part of the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation (AIM) Programme, the project will also update the infrastructure at Rothera so that it remains cost-effective and safe. Actually, “the new facility will consolidate and rationalise the estate, replacing a series of buildings spread across the site which are outdated or costly to maintain”. Once the renovation works, on-going from 2018, are complete, Rothera will become a centre of excellence for polar science for all UK scientists, and a station of choice for international collaboration.

Aiming for a BREEAM accreditation, the project takes on the highest environmental standards. “The energy-efficient, aerodynamic design is oriented into the prevailing wind and utilises a deflector to channel air at higher speeds down the leeward face, minimising snow accumulation around the entire perimeter of the building”. In order to reduce energy use, the facades are made out of composite insulated metal panels and triple glazing. Finally, the facility’s pale blue colour minimises the impacts of degradation from high levels of UV.

Rothera. Image Courtesy of BAS

Designed by Hugh Broughton Architects, the world’s leading designer of research facilities in the Polar Regions, best known for the design of Halley VI Antarctic Research Station created for the British Antarctic Survey, the Discovery Building aims to have a minimal impact on the site.

Delivered by the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Partnership, which includes construction partner BAM and their team, Hugh Broughton Architects and design consultants Sweco, with Ramboll acting as BAS’s Technical Advisers, with their team NORR Architects and Turner & Townsend, the project is clearly a joint effort.

  • Client: British Antarctic Survey (BAS)
  • Technical advisers & developed design: Ramboll, Norr, Turner & Townsend
  • Main contractor: BAM
  • Delivery consultant: Sweco
  • Delivery Architect: Hugh Broughton Architects

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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "Construction Works Begin on Hugh Broughton's Discovery Building at Rothera Research Station in Antarctica" 04 Mar 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

Rothera. Image Courtesy of Hugh Broughton Architects


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