A Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) competition to design Halley VI was launched by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in June 2004 and Faber Maunsell and Hugh Broughton Architects were announced as the winners in 2005. The Antarctic site has many challenges, including: climate; ice shelf movement; logistics; snow accumulation; environmental protocols; isolation; and other human factors. Halley VI needs to accommodate a wide variety of scientific experiments as well as living accommodation for between 16-52 people. The design brief for Halley VI included: minimising environmental impact; being functionally efficient; constructed to budget; representing best value for money; having a lifetime maintenance strategy; being aesthetically stimulating; withstanding the extreme environmental conditions; and engaging the public.
The extreme environment and dynamic needs of the users demanded an adaptable solution including a movable solution in which modules can be disconnected from each other and then towed on the large skis attached to their hydraulic legs which enable the modules to be raised up out of accumulating snow once a year by three workers over one week. The modules are used for a number of different activities and are very versatile as they are supported by a simple, standardised steel frame with no internal structure. This allows the layout of the modules to be changed to suit the needs of the base. Additional modules can be added or removed as required. The double-height central module uses the same components and principles as the standard modules. The central module is open plan and flexible with moveable partitions and flexible spaces to suite both the 50 summer and 16 winter occupants.