Halley VI: forage into the Antarctic

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Halley VI research station is the British Antarctic survey’s new research station and is the UKs sixth Antarctic base since 1957. Halley Bay is a portable pod structure that collects climate data and measures solar activity.

The base sits on the Brunt ice shelf and will largely develop UK science on the white continent. Previously, Halley has paid detrimental information to the research that identified the ozone ‘hole’ in 1985 and more recently it is known for the exploration of solar activity and the effects it has on the earth, shown visible to the eye just above the base as auroras that are formed due to particles from the sun crashing into air molecules found high in the atmosphere.

However, the modern design of the new space is what seems most attractive about the additional pod which architect Hugh Broughton, describes it as looking like “something in space” (BBC news.) The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) comprises 8 modules, work and habitation units and a ‘red social hub’ where residents and workers can gather to relax (containing a dining room, bar and even a gym).

With is only being possible to build in the Antarctic for 10 weeks out of the year, only now is the base complete and fully functioning. The £26m station has been described as the closest you can get to living in space

Adjustments to the infrastructure had to be made to avoid the station being buried and carried to the ice edge, eventually dropping into the ocean; which Halley I-IV were lost to as the ice it rests on is moving at 400m /year. To adjust to this, the base is built on a hydraulic leg and ski system which allows it to be raised above the annual snowfall and towered closer to land. It is hoped that the New Halley will last 30-40years before a new structure is required. Now, a greater array of scientific experiments are possible at Halley VI compared to V.

Building work in the Antarctic was minimal as parts were built in South Africa and some in Hull, transported in units under nine tonnes to avoid breaking through the sea ice during transportation. Living in the Antarctic has its effects on the inhabitants it is said, and so décor has been adapted to prevent sensory deprivation such as the cedar panelling for its scent and colour psychologist Angela Wright used a ‘spring palette’ of bright but not violent colours.  Additionally, in the winter season, artificial daylight bulbs slowly turn on in the morning to stimulate dawn and bubble-like windows are installed to immerse inhabitants into the astonishing aurora australis (a leap from our minimal Northern lights).

Such modern infrastructure shows the great step in development that has been taken in recent years as architecture makes its way to the most primitive of places, the South Pole being a great success and achievement as researchers a life  of luxury in a pod that looks from the exterior, one large caravan with interiors of a five star hotel.

Photo credit: Doug Allan

 

 

 

 

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