British Antarctic Survey's new Discovery Building at Rothera Research Station breaks ground

30 January 2020

Artist's impression of new Discovery Building at the Rothera Research Station

Artist’s impression of new Discovery Building at the Rothera Research Station. Photo: Hugh Broughton Architects.

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the first sighting of Antarctica by the British naval officer Edward Bransfield on this date in 1820, a new building to facilitate the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) ongoing climate related research in Antarctica breaks ground today at their largest facility, Rothera Research Station.

The project is being delivered by the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Partnership, which includes construction partners 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.

Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), this long-term programme will enable a world-leading capability to ensure that Britain remains at the forefront of climate, biodiversity and ocean research in the Polar Regions.

The new operations building, named The Discovery Building after the first sighting of Antarctica 200 years ago, is being delivered as part of The Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation (AIM) Programme to update and restore infrastructure at Rothera so that it remains cost effective and safe. 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facility will consolidate and rationalise the estate, replacing a series of buildings spread across the site which are outdated or costly to maintain.

Minimising the environmental impact of Rothera Research Station is a key part of BAS’s vision for the site. The use of a bespoke BREEAM accreditation and assessment system, developed by Ramboll in collaboration with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to suit the special Antarctic setting, helps to ensure that the highest environmental standards are met.

When the modernisation of Rothera is complete, it will have become a centre of excellence for polar science for all UK scientists, and a station of choice for international collaboration.

Situated on a rocky promontory at the southern extremity of Adelaide Island, Rothera Research Station has been occupied since 1975 and operates year-round. A wide range of scientific research – including biosciences, geosciences, glaciology and meteorology – is carried out in and around the station. Rothera is also a major logistics centre, supporting all BAS operations in Antarctica.

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