The Aurora Centre exterior evening

- Workplace

The Aurora Centre: A new home for the British Antarctic Survey

— CLIENT
British Antarctic Survey
University of Cambridge
Natural Environment Research Council

— SECTOR
Workplace

— SERVICES
Architecture
Interior Design
Landscape Design

— VALUE
£6m

— LEAD CONTACTS
Dianna Fletcher
Neil Lister

Challenge

The Aurora Centre aims to promote science studying the earth’s polar regions. We had two main tasks: to remodel temperature-controlled laboratories including an aquarium, and to improve non-laboratory areas. This included extending the conference room, providing a collaboration space and seminar rooms, and making the entrance lighter and more welcoming – all while avoiding too great an impact on existing facilities.

Approach + Solution

We decided to create a distinctive new extension for the conference, collaboration and meeting areas, as well as the reception. This provides a stunning new entrance to the building: hexagonal glass cladding panels reflect BAS’s unique work, their shape inspired by the molecular structure of ice. New super-insulated laboratories and experimental cold rooms allow

scientists to perform experiments at temperatures as low as -55°C, and we included several labs specified for Containment Level 2.

As expected for a climate research hub, the Aurora Centre is a highly sustainable building. Passive design ensured that spaces are well-lit with morning sunlight, and do not overheat in the summer.

“The team has translated our vision with great creativity into a unique, beautiful and user-friendly space.”

– BEATRIX SCHLARB-RIDLEY, DIRECTOR OF INNOVATIONS AND IMPACT AT THE BRITISH ANTARCTIC SURVEY