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Antarctic science hub


Antarctic Infrastructure Improvement Programme


BAM contracted to British Antarctic Survey

Sustainability goals

Area of Expertise

Marine design, building design, architecture, carbon management and sustainability goals, strategy development, environmental engineering, geotechnical, cold climate design, fire, digital delivery, collaborative work planning and construction planning support..


Rothera, South Georgia, South Orkney Islands, UK Antarctic Territories

United Nations sustainable development goal number 11 - sustainable cities and communities
United Nations sustainable development goal number 13 - climate action
United Nations sustainable development goal number 14 - life below water
United Nations sustainable development goal number 15 - life on land

Polar station modernisation project

Rothera Research Station, the Antarctic science hub of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), is in need of modernisation and will be transformed into a cutting-edge science and operations facility.

The ten-year project is a multidisciplinary undertaking that includes a wide scope of expertise. Several Sweco experts are part of a 20-person construction team that is carrying out the work.

Not only is the team working in one of the world’s harshest environments, everyone participating in this project must make an 11,000 – kilometre voyage by ship to reach the construction site.

The modernisation work includes deconstruction of the old wharf as well as constructing a new
74-metre long wharf that is bigger, deeper and stronger than the current one. Providing safe berthing and efficient operations for the new polar research vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, is one key aim of the project.

Demolition and reconstruction of the wharf at the antarctic science hub in Rothera

Demolition and reconstruction of the wharf are necessary in order to accommodate the polar research vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, which will carry out cutting-edge research into polar science.

A modernisation of the wharf at the polar station in Rothera, UK Antarctic Territories

Expansion of the wharf was required to accommodate the new BAS ship RRS Sir David Attenborough. The design was undertaken following non-intrusive SI following thorough risk appraisal. Three mooring points maximise the position of the vessel for moving cargo on and off ships.

Bird Island Research Station, Bird Island - South Georgia

This important bird and seal breeding location in South Georgia delivers frontier science research.

Antarctic science hub page

The Discovery building is the most significant project of the Phase 1 projects delivered by BAM/Sweco team. Key aspects of the building are thermal performance, capture and reuse of thermal energy from electricity generation and recirculation of heat. A novel wind deflector device is also included to reduce the effort required to manage snow in operation.

Ten-year collaborative project partnership

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) set an objective to select a partner who shares their values to work over the next decade openly, transparently and effectively with UK Government- appointed technical advisors and cost managers to ensure that the overall modernisation programme delivers on-time and provides value for money.

Sweco were invited to join with construction firm BAM to form the Design and Construct Team to fulfil the BAS requirement.

Sweco experts are developing long term collaborative relationships, transforming operations and mastering the risk involved in the project along with the other team members.

Using a right-the-first-time-approach with no margin for errors, delays or defects in the final product, maintaining and managing the budget, working around complex logistics, testing and trialling design and construction, as well as planning ahead and incorporating future requirements into the programme are some of the areas where Sweco adds value to the project.

Avoiding any operational disruption for BAS was a requirement in order to continue mobilisation and demobilisation of people, fuel and food throughout the construction period. Sweco’s worksite was at the end of the runway, which remained fully open and operational throughout the works.

The new wharf includes 60 metres of sheet pile wraparound strengthened by an anchor wall and tie rods. The wrap-around design extends 6 metres to the east and west and 2 metres to the north and south. The sinker anchor helps larger vessels berth safely, and the mooring dolphin (marine structures extending out of the water) and walkway provide safe access for passengers.

The extended slipway has also been included for small boats to launch and dock in a wide range of tidal and wind conditions.

The logistically complex project to replace the Beck House storage building, install a new fuel storage tank along with improved energy monitoring, construct new walkways and extend the jetty was delivered in just 17 weeks, after months of planning and preparation.

Eight existing buildings will be replaced with one multipurpose facility offering significant savings in energy use, operating efficiency and modernising the entire operating procedures at BAS’s principle Research Station.

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