Halley VI is a self-sufficient scientific research base, floating on an ice shelf 900 miles from the South Pole. The hydraulically elevated ski based modules respond to annually rising snow levels and the need to relocate the base if the site calves off as an iceberg. A special central module provides a dramatic open plan social area at the heart of the station.
Halley is the most southerly research station operated by the British Antarctic Survey and is located 10,000 miles from the UK on the 150-metre thick floating Brunt Ice Shelf, which moves 400 metres per annum towards the sea. Snow levels rise by over 1 metre every year and the sun does not rise above the horizon for 105 days during winter. Temperatures drop to -56C and the site can be buffeted by winds in excess of 100 mph. Access by ship and plane is limited to a 3-month window. Materials and components required to construct the new base have to be delivered across fragile sea ice, which can fracture at any time.
Whilst the current base, Halley V, continues to operate effectively, a significant calving of the ice shelf is predicted within the next decade, which would see it floating out to sea as a giant iceberg. As a result, in 2004, a 3-stages international competition was launched for the design of a new, fully relocatable base for 16 people in the winter and 52 in the summer.
The design has been developed in response to the demands of the science, the comfort of the residents, buildability and the operations inherent in the life of a research station. To meet these demands it is crucial to create a design, which maximises flexibility. This is achieved with a modular approach. Modules can be used for a wide variety of activities ranging from laboratories and bedrooms to recreation areas and energy centres. Connected together, the modules form the new station. Modularity brings significant benefits in terms of flexibility, ease of construction, maintenance, relocation, fire safety, acoustics and robustness. The station is centred on two modular platforms. The northern platform provides the principal habitat. The southern platform contains science modules.
Open Plan Central Module
Whilst the majority of activities that take place at Halley can be provided for using the standard blue module, there are some activities, which are constant, and require a distinct approach. These activities are housed in a special red central module. This is the principal space for eating, drinking and recreation and is the major destination at the new base.