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Danny's Blog - From the frozen Antarctic, part II

Faber Maunsell's Danny Wood continues his account of life at the bottom of the world, building the British Antarctic Survey's new Halley VI station.


After an interesting December, January has been a busy month.

The construction of the module steelwork began in earnest on 31 December, with the first set of hydraulic legs being installed into the space frame.

This frame was then pulled to the construction line where the remaining processes will be carried out. To move the space frames we simply lower the hydraulic legs and hitch the frames to a D5 dozer and pull, carefully.

Following the legs the prefabricated floor cassettes are fixed into position and then each module is loaded with either room pods or plant. The superstructure steelwork is then erected to complete the structural skeleton.

To protect the structures during the harsh Antarctic winter the modules will be wrapped with a PVC fabric. Next season these will be removed and the permanent GRP cladding panels installed.

The energy modules are the first structures to be erected in order to allow early access for M&E installation. These are followed by the bedroom and science modules, making a total of seven this season.

In mid-January we all received a trip to the nearby Penguin colony at Windy Bay, approximately 17km from base.

This was a real morale boost and just what we needed as the temperatures started falling and work on site became more gruelling.

There were less than 200 remaining penguins (of approximately 7,000 at the peak), but it was a real treat to see them in their natural environment, and we all returned with smiles and hundreds of photographs.

January has also seen the pleasant weather interrupted with a couple of 'blows'.

The winds peaked at 30 knots, and it was an interesting experience seeing the snow shifting like sand, and forming drifts around any static objects. It must be an awesome sight to see the winter blows, when windspeeds are twice as high.

At the end of January I am pleased to report that the structural works continue full steam ahead, with only two module superstructures to complete, and then of course the cladding installation and winterising.

A member of the Architects team arrives in the first week in February, when we will be working on the cladding to one of the bedroom modules.

…to be continued.

Read part one of Danny's Antarctic diary.

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