Australia has permanent bases on subantarctic Macquarie Island, and three continental stations at Mawson, Davis and Casey.

Construction in Antarctica is very different to building in more temperate regions. Not only must the building construction be adapted to cope with the climatic conditions, but the placement of the building on its site requires the consideration of various factors. These include the foundation material of the site and the potential interaction of the building with it, the layout of the site, and the orientation of individual buildings.

Methods of construction also pose a challenge, for example, how do you pour concrete and allow it to set without immediately freezing? How can you minimise the problems posed by a buildup of drifting snow? How do you insulate buildings against such extremes of internal and external temperatures?

The buildings at Davis, Mawson and Casey have evolved over the years since the establishment of Australia’s first continental base in 1954 at Mawson, following earlier settlement at Heard Island between 1948 and 1954.

The history of the rebuilding program highlights many of the issues that faced the designers of our Antarctic buildings, and an explanation of the reasons for the development of the distinctive AANBUS modular buildings. The provision of short term shelter in the field is another challenge.