Polar architecture with Hugh Broughton

Polar architecture – what are the challenges of designing for the world’s most extreme environment?

Shackleton is joined by Hugh Broughton, a man whose most recent projects include a gold inflatable house for Mars. It’s his first extra-terrestrial commission, but it seems only appropriate for an architect who for almost two decades has carved out a fine reputation for designing buildings for extreme environments.

It was 2005 when Hugh Broughton’s architect’s practice won a competition to design the UK’s Antarctic research station, Halley VI. The significant challenge was to create a structure that could handle the hostile and constantly shifting conditions of the Brunt Ice Shelf. The first four Halley stations had ended up being buried by ice, and the fifth was built on legs, which themselves ended up getting trapped in the ice. Hugh’s ingenious eight-modular design with extendable hydraulic legs that could be retracted from the snow has proved so successful that he is now one of the most in-demand – if not the most in-demand – architects in the Antarctic.

Right now his projects there include the Australian Davis Research station, the modernisation of the British Rothera Research Station, and the redevelopment of the Scott Base for Antarctic New Zealand. His buildings are as visually striking as they are brilliant in terms of engineering and structure.