Bam wraps up Antarctic work for the year

Bam Nuttall has completed its work for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) this year.

The contractor spent the last seven months constructing a two-storey scientific support facility for the BAS at its Rothera Research Station, which will be known as the Discovery Building. It was the third period that Bam spent at the site.

Bam successfully completed the outer skeleton and ground-floor slab of the 4,500-square-metre building, and the firm hopes to complete the external works in 2023 before fitting out the interior.

When complete, it will provide a mix of facilities supporting the station’s work, including preparation areas for field expeditions, workshops, offices, a medical centre, recreational spaces – including a music room and climbing wall – plus space for plant and machinery.

The completed building will also feature a thermally-efficient envelope to minimise energy use and it will employ renewable features such as photovoltaic solar panels.

Building work can only be tackled during the Antarctic summer, from November to May.

In 2020, the team of about 50 workers completed work on the Rothera Wharf for the (BAS), a structure that will accommodate a new research vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Bam’s workforce has now returned to the UK on board the vessel, named in honour of the broadcaster.

The project is being delivered by the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation (AIM) partnership, which includes construction partner Bam Nuttall, design consultants Sweco and Hugh Broughton Architects, with Ramboll acting as technical adviser, supported by consultants Norr and Turner & Townsend.

Commissioned by the UK Natural Environment Research Council, the programme is expected to take up to 10 years to complete, with a budget of about £100m.

Rothera modernisation senior project manager David Brand said: “We now have just two seasons remaining of the build before we commence the final finishes, [and] commissioning of the building’s services, and BAS can move in.

“We have certainly turned the corner and we have a very exciting season ahead, where we will see the full external fabric of the building be installed and we will, for the first time, see the full size of the building sitting amongst the legacy buildings at Rothera,” he added.

Construction News profiled Bam Nuttall’s work in the Antarctic in 2019, with the team describing the impact of the harsh weather, as well as the mental health challenges of isolation.

The team’s work was complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, which shortened its 2021 season by two weeks as the Bam staff members isolated to prevent the virus reaching the site.

Last year, Bam extended its relationship with BAS, securing a 10-year, £500m contract to upgrade and extend polar research stations across the Antarctic.

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