Bam and Sweco secure another decade of polar construction work

Royal Bam Group’s UK civil engineering subsidiary Bam Nuttal and design consultant Sweco UK have won a further 10-year framework to undertake construction for the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) research station modernisation programme in the South Pole.

Awarded by UK Research and Innovation, the new contract was announced just as the Bam-Sweco construction team ended their nine-week summer construction season building groundworks for the new Discovery Building at BAS’ Rothera Research Station, which is due for completion in 2024.

This year’s season was shortened by the need for the crew to quarantine for two weeks before setting sail from the UK for Antarctica on 11 January.

Bam, Sweco and technical advisors Ramboll began working regularly for BAS in 2017. 

In that time they built a new jetty and buildings at Bird Island, two new wharves at King Edward Point in South Georgia, a berth for the RRS Sir David Attenborough at Rothera, and started the Discovery Building at Rothera.

In the coming decade, projects could include new scientific support buildings, laboratories, accommodation, upgraded recycling and waste management facilities, and runway enhancements.

Sweco UK president Max Joy described polar construction as "pushing the boundaries of engineering"

All materials need to be shipped from the UK and the planning process must be meticulous, accounting for every nut and bolt as the nearest builders’ merchant is thousands of miles away.

Director of British Antarctic Survey Professor Dame Jane Francis said the ambition was to replace ageing buildings with more energy-efficient ones.

"It is our world-leading research that underlines the urgency to cut the emission of greenhouse gases and we are rising to the challenge," she said. "We will move away from our reliance on carbon fossil fuels to sustain our Antarctic buildings, and aim to scale-up our use of renewable energy sources."
A masterplan would be completed shortly with Ramboll, she added.

Image: BAS’ visualisation of the Discovery Building now under construction at its Rothera Research Station, Antarctica (©HPA-BAS)

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