The next phase of construction of the British Rothera Station on the Antarctic Peninsula began on January 11, 2021, according to a press release from the British Antarctic Survey. To reduce the risk of introducing COVID-19 into the British Antarctic Survey research station (BAS), the construction team spent two weeks in quarantine and conducted three COVID-19 tests before embarking on the 11,000-kilometre voyage.
A team of more than 20 people is working the second season on the construction of the ultra-modern operations building, which also houses the research facilities. The construction work can only be carried out during a short period, in the southern summer months, from December to March. The goal this season is to complete the precast concrete foundations, ground floor slab, rock anchors and columns of the foundations before the construction team returns in December 2021 to finish the exterior structure, BAS writes.
The new building is called the Discovery Building and commemorates the discovery of Antarctica just over 200 years ago. Facilities in the new two-story, 4,500-square-foot building include preparation areas for field expeditions, offices, a medical center, recreational spaces, incl. Music room and climbing wall, as well as workshops.
According to BAS, the “Discovery Building” has a unique design, such as a thermally efficient envelope to minimize energy consumption, as well as generators for heat recovery and photovoltaic solar panels. In addition, the building also has a snow and wind deflector – the largest of its kind in Antarctica – to minimize the time required to remove snow accumulations around the building.
Maurice Siemensma, project manager for contractor BAM, said in the release, “We’re delighted to return for another construction season at Rothera, to undertake the installation of the foundations, the concrete perimeter walls, the underground drainage and completing the earthworks for the Discovery Building. Although this year’s construction season has been shortened, we have put together a programme to ensure we can continue progress on this crucial piece of infrastructure, which will support the construction works in the coming season substantially.”
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal