Scientists looking to set up research stations on Antarctic ice-sheets have a problem. The ice moves toward the ocean at a rate of a quarter mile each year. Not only that, ice and snow quickly accumulates on the surface of the frozen continent, burying any structure that dares to defy the elements. Combined, these factors basically mean that any permanent building has a maximum lifespan of about 10 years. Looking to overcome these problems, Hugh Broughton Architects have designed a research station that features extendable legs on giant skis.
You are looking at the Halley VI Antarctic research station, a research facility that's officially set to open on February 5. The station, established by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), will be home to over 50 scientists.
The structure is comprised of eight individual modules that are interconnected. And each of them is equipped with retractable hydraulic legs which will enable the structure to clear the rising ground each year. And when the station needs to be moved, a bulldozer can tow the entire base to a new location.
Writing in Architectural Record, Chris Foges explains how the modules work:
Linked by short, flexible corridors, the modules stand in line like a desert caravan, perpendicular to the direction of the prevailing wind, which drives snow from underneath. Living accommodations and laboratories, clad in blue glass-reinforced plastic, are positioned on either side of a larger unit clad in red.
This red module contains a social space that is crucial to the wellbeing of the small crew who live at Halley year-round. Brutal winter conditions of permanent darkness, -60-degree temperatures, and 100-miles-per-hour wind leave them vulnerable to depression and stress – "winter-over syndrome." Home comforts include a hydroponic salad garden and a climbing wall within a double-height central space lined with Lebanese cedar, selected for its scent. The architect also worked with a color psychologist to identify "refreshing and stimulating" shades, and developed a bedside lamp with a daylight bulb to simulate sunrise.
Images: Hugh Broughton Architects.