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Ice station Halley VI

18/07/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Faber Maunsell and Hugh Broughton Architects have been named winners of the British Antarctic Survey competition to design the Halley VI Research Station in Antarctica. God save the Queen.

The Halley VI competition, which attracted 86 entries worldwide, was launched in June 2004 by BAS and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

A major calving event is predicted in the next decade and there is a risk that the present station, Halley V, could be lost.

The new, replacement station will provide a home and work place for 16 people during the winter and 52 in the summer, and will need to respond to the most extreme environment on the planet. Located 10,000 miles from the UK, the station will be situated on the 150m thick floating Brunt Ice Shelf, which moves 400m per annum towards the sea. Snow accumulation means that snow levels rise by over a metre every year, and the sun does not rise above the horizon for three months during the Austral winter.

Halley VI will have a series of mechanical legs on skis that enable it to stay above the surface of the ice and be relocated inland to minimize the risk of loss due to future calving events. Designed to withstand extreme winds and freezing winter temperatures down to minus 56 degrees Celsius, Faber Maunsell and Hugh Broughton Architects' design will provide a safe, stimulating place for scientists to live and work, in a building designed to minimize its impact on Antarctica's pristine environment.

Faber Maunsell Project Director, Peter Ayres said: "I am delighted that we have won this prestigious competition. Our design creates inspirational, iconic architecture and engineering, that we believe truly reflects the significance of the science conducted by BAS at Halley. We've paid particular attention to the needs for a sustainable, energy-efficient solution that complies in full with the Antarctic Treaty Environmental Protocol. Minimising environmental impact during construction and lifespan has been a big issue for our design. Each highly insulated module incorporates low energy and sustainable principles to help reduce the station's environmental impact. When it comes to eventual decommissioning, the station can be easily moved and taken apart. We consider Halley VI to be a visitor to Antarctica, not a resident."

Architect, Hugh Broughton, said: "Our solution has been developed in direct response to the demands of the science that takes place at Halley, the comfort of the residents, buildability and the operations necessary in the life of an Antarctic research station. From the outset we researched the processes involved at Halley, and used this knowledge to inform our thinking. The iconic architecture grew from the function of the building. Our design maximizes flexibility. Modules can be used for a large number of activities ranging from laboratories to recreation to plant rooms. When connected together the modules form the new station."

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