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New Zealand’s Antarctic Scott Base set for redevelopment

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As Scott Base nears the end of its functional operating life, Antarctica New Zealand has brought in a team of experts to overhaul the facilities

The famous base is primed for an upgrade

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Scott Base is about to go under the microscope as a group of specialist designers takes up the call for the redevelopment of New Zealand’s home in Antarctica.

The facility is reaching the end of its functional life and needs to be redeveloped to manage risk, maintain standards and support the requirements of New Zealand’s world-class scientists. Antarctica New Zealand has contracted experts in four disciplines that can deliver on cold climate design.

The four successful applicants within each discipline are:

  • Architecture: Jasmax-Hugh Broughton
  • Architects Quantity Surveying: Turner and Townsend
  • Structural/Civil Engineering: WSP Opus
  • Building Services: Steensen Varming

This team will spend the next 12 months creating four concept designs based on user requirements, site investigations to understand environmental constraints and any learning from the experience of other National Antarctic Programmes. Antarctica New Zealand will then recommend a preferred option for a modern, low-impact, efficient facility that satisfies New Zealand’s scientific needs and strategic interests. This Detailed Business Case with concept designs will be presented to government in December 2018.

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Scott Base Redevelopment Project Manager, Simon Shelton, says the chosen companies fit well with Antarctica New Zealand’s values and passion for the harsh continent.

“It’s important to us that they complement Antarctica New Zealand on this journey. They need to be able to work as part of our organisation and understand our environmental, cultural and logistical requirements,” he says. “We chose these organisations for their operational skill, innovation, values and willingness to collaborate”.

Euan MacKellar of Jasmax, one half of the Jasmax-Hugh Broughton Architects team, is looking forward to the challenge of designing New Zealand’s future physical presence in Antarctica.

“It is an incredible honour to be working with Antarctica New Zealand on the plans to redevelop Scott Base, where we will need to deliver high performance buildings in one of the most extreme natural environments on the planet,” he says. “It is a huge privilege to be part of the committed team creating designs which will help our scientists working in Antarctica to better understand our environment as we strive to protect our planet for generations to come”.

Antarctica New Zealand is the government agency charged with carrying out New Zealand's activities in Antarctica, supporting world-leading science and environmental protection. New Zealand has occupied Scott Base every day since it was established by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1957 and is recognised as a leader in the international Antarctic Treaty System. Mr Shelton says it’s therefore important that Scott Base is a safe, fit-for-purpose facility well into the future.

“We intend to role-model environmental stewardship while creating a design that caters for New Zealand’s scientific and strategic needs in Antarctica. We are looking for efficiencies in how we, and our facilities, operate through all aspects of the design.”

This Detailed Business Case will cost 6.14 million dollars and has been funded by the Government.

A team of four designers visited Antarctica in December and then again in February to begin the design process.

About Scott Base

Scott Base, New Zealand's only Antarctic research station, perches on a low volcanic headland called Pram Point at the Southern End of Ross Island in the Ross Sea region. It is 3800kms south of Christchurch, New Zealand and 1300kms from the South Pole.

Established in January 1957, the purpose of Scott Base was to support two major events: the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition (TAE) 1955-58, which successfully completed the first overland crossing of Antarctica, and the International Geophysical Year (IGY) 1957-58, a collaborative science project involving 67 countries.

It had been intended the station would remain for a maximum of three years. However, as the scientific potential of Antarctica was realised, the New Zealand Government decided to continue with Antarctic research indefinitely and further buildings were added to meet the demands of increased activities. The last large developments were a rebuild in 1977 (completed in 1987/88).

First published date: 27 February 2018

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