To establish Britain as a world leader in the fight against climate change, the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has broken ground on the new Discovery Building at Rothera Research Station, its largest facility for ongoing climate-related research in Antarctica. Designed by Hugh Broughton Architects (HBA) as part of the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Partnership, the new operations building and ongoing modernization efforts will follow a bespoke BREEAM accreditation and assessment system to ensure that the upgraded facility meets the highest environmental standards.
Located on a rocky promontory at the southern extremity of Adelaide Island, the Rothera Research Station has operated year-round since its opening in 1975 and serves as a major logistics center for all BAS operations on the continent. The new cutting-edge facility — named The Discovery Building to commemorate the discovery of Antarctica in 1820 by the British naval officer Edward Bransfield — will consolidate the existing facility by replacing a series of scattered buildings that are too outdated or costly to maintain. Spanning an area of 4,500 square meters, the two-story building will comprise preparation areas for field expeditions, a central store, medical facility, offices, recreational spaces, workshops and areas for plant.
To minimize environmental impact, The Discovery Building will feature an energy-efficient, aerodynamic design oriented into the prevailing wind. A snow and wind deflector — the largest of its kind in Antarctica — will channel air at higher speeds down the leeward face to minimize snow accumulation. The exterior composite insulated metal panels will be tinted a pale blue in reference to the Antarctic sky and to minimize impacts of degradation from high levels of UV. Triple glazing will let in natural light while ensuring an airtight envelope.
Health and wellness for field staff is also considered in the design. Vibrant colors, transparent glazed screens between spaces and access to natural light will help mitigate the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the long, dark Antarctic winters. Open-plan workspaces and break-out areas will help foster collaboration. The Discovery Building is expected to finish construction in 2023. The project was designed with BAM Nuttall Ltd and its team, design consultants Sweco, Hugh Broughton Architects as well as with Ramboll acting as BAS’s Technical Advisers and with its team Norr and Turner & Townsend.
Images via Hugh Broughton Architects