BAM completes exterior of new Antarctic science and operations facility

BAM has made weathertight a new scientific and operational support facility, at Rothera Research Station for the British Antarctic Survey, with the cladding complete and an operations tower installed.

As construction partner to the British Antarctic Survey, BAM has now completed four years of challenging construction on the Discovery Building and is supported on site by Technical Advisor, Ramboll, and Designer, Sweco. 

The 54-strong on site construction team have been facing harsh weather conditions to complete this season’s programme of works, before their planned departure in April. When complete, the Discovery Building will replace several older buildings at Rothera Research Station and will support science in the region for at least the next 50 years. 

The large (4,500m2) two-storey building enables scientific support and operations functions to work together under one roof. 

The work is part of the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation programme (AIMP), a long-term government investment for future polar science, commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (UKRI-NERC).

Graham Hopper, Project Director at BAM

Reaching this milestone safely on such a complex construction project in such an extreme environment, is testament to the dedication and motivation of the highly skilled project teams within BAM, BAS, Ramboll and SWECO and our supply chain partners.  All have my thanks and admiration and should take great pride in both this achievement and in how they have collaboratively integrated within this remote research station, and facilitated continuity of BAS Science and operations.

Elen Jones, AIMP Programme Director at BAS, said: 

“To personally see the commencement of the cladding and then continue watching the Discovery Building take shape over the course of this season and ultimately achieve weathertightness as planned, is a major milestone of which the British Antarctic Survey and partners are truly proud of and is testament to our collaborative approach to infrastructure project delivery in Antarctica. Thank you and well done to everyone at Rothera for their cooperation and support during this challenging but rewarding construction season.”

The new science and operations facility is designed to make sure the long-term impact on the environment is minimal and meets British Antarctic Survey’s net zero ambitions by 2040. The new combined heat and power plant is expected to cut carbon emissions for the entire research station at Rothera by 25%. This, along with photovoltaic solar panels, a thermally efficient building envelope and triple glazing will make the building an exemplar for energy efficiency.

The new Discovery Building will feature an innovative wind deflector to minimise the accumulation of snow around the building and an operations tower to provide 360-degree views of the runway, wharf and station buildings. 

The achievements of the partnership are a result of the skills and teamwork needed to deliver on the meticulously planned work.

The partnership includes BAM as construction partner, design consultants Sweco and Hugh Broughton Architects providing delivery design. Ramboll is acting as technical advisors, with Norr Architects providing concept design, OFR providing fire consultancy and Turner & Townsend providing cost and commercial advice. The team will return in November 2023 for the next season of construction. The building is due to be completed in 2025.

Rothera Research Station is the UK’s largest Antarctic research and operations hub that supports leading researchers from the UK and abroad. The new Discovery Building will enable the UK to continue to deliver cutting-edge climate, biodiversity and ocean research and innovative science in Antarctica.