Australian Davis Station to be renewed | Polarjournal
The new “Davis” station was designed by architect Hugh Broughton and engineering consultants WSP and is due to be built in the next few years. (Photo: Hugh Broughton Architects / AAD)

The “Davis” station is the southernmost Australian research station in Antarctica. It is named after the Australian navigator John King Davis, who commanded ships of the Mawson and other Antarctic expeditions. The station is built on rocky moraines and lies only 100 meters from the coast. Some of the older buildings pre-date the 1980s reconstruction programme and are of heritage significance. According to plans, the station will now be adapted to the latest research needs over the next few years.

First tent and flag at Davis Research Station installation, January 1957 (photo by Phillip Law).

On the occasion of the ‘International Geophysical Year’ on January 12, 1957, a tent was erected for the first time at the site of the present “Davis” Station, the Australian flag was hoisted and some facilities were installed. One month later, the first building was erected and the station was ceremoniously opened. The “Davis” station is considered a key station in the network of Australian research stations and accommodates 70 people during the summer season. Usually, 22 researchers overwinter on this station. Now the aging facilities are to be modernized.

The existing facilities are getting on in years and are to be replaced. (Photo: Matthew Low)

AAD Director Kim Ellis said it was an unprecedented opportunity to redefine Australia’s second oldest Antarctic station, create world-class facilities for scientific research and support future operational activities.

“We will combine contributions from our Antarctic research community with architectural and engineering expertise to develop a sustainable and efficient research station in the coming decades,” Ellis said.

An artist’s impression of one of the common areas of a modern Davis research station. (Photo: Hugh Broughton Architects / AAD)

UK-based architect Hugh Broughton and engineering firm WSP was commissioned with the development of the master plan. The consultants are among the world’s leading designers of polar research facilities, such as the transportable “Halley VI” research station for ‘British Antarctic Survey’ and the Spanish Antarctic base “Juan Carlos-1” for the Spanish Ministry of Science. WSP and the Hugh Broughton architectural team are also working on the current redevelopment of New Zealand’s “Scott Base”.

View of the potential future “Davis” research station (Photo: Hugh Broughton Architects / AAD)

Australia also plans to build a larger, paved runway near Davis Station. Delivery and construction costs for the “Davis Aerodrome” have yet to be determined and are subject to a final investment decision and an environmental assessment decision, the Australian Antarctic Division states. This type of runway would be the first on the Antarctic continent. However, the project is strongly questioned by various associations.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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