BAM chosen to upgrade £100m polar research station

BAM Construction has been selected to work with British Antarctic Survey (BAS) on the modernisation of its research facilities.

Commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the north west construction firm has teamed up with European design consultants Sweco to assist with the delivery of the £100 million project, which is expect to take 7-10 years to complete.

The modernisation programme will enable a world-leading capability to ensure that Britain remains at the forefront of climate, biodiversity and ocean research in the Polar regions.

One of the first projects to be undertaken will be the redevelopment of the wharf at Rothera Research Station which, with its relatively accessible position on the Antarctic Peninsula, is a gateway for UK science operations deep in Antarctica. The wharf redevelopment is required to accommodate the new state-of-the-art polar research vessel the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

In addition to building a new wharf, storage and living quarters at Rothera, other Antarctic development projects that will be undertaken include modernising buildings and facilities at BAS research stations on Signy Island (South Orkney Islands), Bird Island (South Georgia) and at King Edward Point (South Georgia).

The project will be delivered by BAM Nuttall, BAM’s UK civil engineering contractor, and BAM International and construction workers will face some tough working conditions and unique challenges given the continent is the highest, driest, coldest and windiest on Earth.

Most construction work will need to be completed during the four-month window of the Antarctic summer. Construction workers will live and work alongside science teams in harsh and remote environments, sometimes in sub-zero temperatures.

Stephen Fox CBE, chief executive of BAM Nuttall, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this prestigious contract from NERC and very much look forward to partnering with the technical and operational teams at British Antarctic Survey.

"The opportunity to apply our skills and capability in remote environmentally sensitive gives our delivery team a unique and rewarding experience.

"This project will provide a great opportunity to showcase British innovation in digital design and manufacture. We are fully committed to developing our workforce and will look forward to involving our young engineers through apprenticeship and graduate programmes.”

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