Poland's rebuilt Antarctic research station to open in 2023

The reconstructed H. Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station is expected to start operation in 2023, Agnieszka Kruszewska from the Institute of Biophysics and Biochemistry at the Polish Academy of Sciences (IBB PAN), the station's managing institution, has told PAP.

The rebuilding of the infrastructure and a new main hall of the polar research station in the Antarctic will cost PLN 88 million (EUR 20.4 million) and will be financed with Poland's science ministry's grant, she added.

The H. Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station is situated on King George Island in the South Shetlands archipelago (South Atlantic) and has been in use since the 1977. Scientists have been raising the alarm over its poor state for years, arising from the position of the station's main building. When it was established 40 years ago, it was over a dozen metres from the sea. Now, during high tide, it is less than a metre away. Scientists claim that at any moment a storm could force part of the building to be taken out of use.

The station's new hall has been designed the Kurylowicz & Associates studio. Its layout will be tripartite and the floor plan will resemble a three-pointed star. There will be a common leisure space in the centre of the station.

The structure will be pre-assembled in Poland, likely at the beginning of 2021. Kruszewska said. "We decided to take such a step to avoid unforeseen events that could affect the timely implementation of this investment" she added.

If everything goes according to plan, in the second half of 2021 all prefabricated elements will be transported to the Antarctic and assembled there within the next several months. In 2022, finishing works are planned. In 2023, the facility is to be put into use.

The new building will be located 100 metres from the shoreline, on a stable surface. It will have foundations so its position will be permanent. The reconstructed station will accommodate up to 40 people.

The H. Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station is an informal Polish 'embassy' in the Antarctic. Poland - as one of the signatories of the Antarctic Treaty - belongs to a group of 29 consultative countries which can take decisions on human activity on Antarctic territory. One of the conditions enabling the country to be among that group is the fact that it conducts important scientific research work, including having a research station and sending scientific expeditions, for which there needs to be consent among the other members of the Treaty. The future of that research, however, depends on the maintenance of the station building and its infrastructure.