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Antarctic research base plans cool down

The British Antarctic Survey's (BAS') new research station (pictured above) has been significantly reduced in size after the project went £6 million over budget, the AJ can reveal.

Hugh Broughton Architects - which picked up the commission last July in one of the UK's most high-profile design competitions - has had to remove nearly a third of the scheme's accommodation.

Major complications arose just before Christmas after the brief expanded beyond the reality of the £19 million earmarked for construction.

Now the architect faces a race against time to remove expensive elements from the project, which would replace an existing station ( pictured below) that could jeopardise its chances of securing crucial government funds.

Important parts of the project facing the axe include space that would have protected some of the world's leading Antarctic scientists and technicians from the risk of fire.

Instead of new facilities, old 'refuge space' in one of the world's harshest natural environments will be used to shelter experts for up to three months should disaster strike.

Hugh Broughton, who is working with Faber Maunsell on the project, said: 'We revisited the site and asked ourselves why we were designing millions of pounds of pod we don't necessarily need.'

His team has additionally pared back the level of servicing, finishing and furniture, claiming it is 'more gilded than it needs to be'.

The move comes after a number of problems beset the proposed station after it was announced that Broughton had beaten off competition from Hopkins and Lifschutz Davidson last year.

The BAS had trouble finding a contractor before it settled on Morrison, with whom it had previously collaborated.

Spiralling costs also caused BAS to delay the project by a year, so that it could use an existing research base to accommodate the contractor.

Broughton said: 'It was a reassessment of a once-in-a-lifetime situation without reducing the quality of the science or the living accommodation.

'With all due credit to our competitors, this is something they couldn't have done.'

See Hugh Broughton's Antarctic diary here

by Rob Sharp

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