The modernisation of Bird Island Research Station was successfully completed in June 2018 following a 17 week programme of works throughout the Antarctic summer.
Beck House storage building was replaced, a new fuel storage tank installed along with improved energy monitoring, new walkways constructed and the jetty extended. This logistically complex project was delivered after many months of planning and preparation in order not to disrupt the delivery of frontier science at this important bird and seal breeding location in South Georgia.
The modernisation of the station has improved the facility and working conditions for research teams through increased storage, more efficient energy use, improved biosecurity capability for cargo handling, and modernised the operational requirements of the station to ensure safe people and cargo discharge from the RRS Sir David Attenborough.
British Antarctic Survey worked with construction partners BAM, with support from our Technical Advisors Ramboll, on the modernisation which began on location in February 2018 and was completed before the Antarctic winter set in. All work was being carried out in accordance with permission granted by the GSGSSI following submission of an Enviromental Impact Assessment.
Bird Island research station is an important research centre for long-term studies of bird and seal biology and one of the richest wildlife sites in the world. Tens of thousands of albatrosses, penguins and seals live on the island, which is a Specially Protected Area (SPA), during summer. The construction programme is designed to minimise any impact on research projects and wildlife.
The site was painstakingly prepared before the first foundation pad for the new Beck House was laid. This slab was the first of 55 foundation pads, and putting these in place was the task for early March.
The first pieces of equipment for the modernisation at Bird Island arrived on site in mid-November, with the arrival of a Telehandler, seven fuel tanks, fuel and food supplies for construction staff, via the RRS James Clark Ross.
People, supplies and equipment are brought ashore by a ship’s cargo tender (small vessel) which moors at the research station jetty. To accommodate the RRS Sir David Attenborough cargo tender, and reduce the need for heavy manual lifting, a new longer L-shaped jetty will be contructed. At 5.5m wide and (compared to the existing jetty’s width of 3m) cargo tender will be able to berth with either side facing the jetty. The new jetty will also facilitate the deeper draught of the RRS Sir David Attenborough’s larger tender vessel and will be functional in all tidal conditions.
The new Beck House has been built on the existing Beck House footprint between Prince House and the Generator Shed. It is constructed from pre-fabricated modular elements. A timber store and waste storage is incorporated into the design. The old building and adjacent timber and waste stores were removed.
The research station is home to a small and dedicated science and support team. Watch these videos find out more about what it’s like.
Our aims are to enable the continuation of globally important frontier science and to to enhance our operational efficiency at Bird Island. The modernisation of Bird Island will achieve:
Our in-house project management, operational and logistics teams are working closely with external partners to deliver the modernisation projects at BAS’s Antarctic research stations.
BAM Nuttall is British Antarctic Survey’s construction partner for the Rothera & Islands modernisation projects.
Partnership Operations Director
Design Team Leader
Ramboll is British Antarctic Survey’s technical advisor, supporting a number of projects in the Antarctic.
Project Manager – Buildings
Discipline Leader – Marine
Discipline Leader – MEP
Discipline Leader – Structures
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Technical advisor appointment