The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) is looking for an innovative and energy-efficient solution to accommodating researchers at Davis station in Antarctica.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Antarctic, Dr Sharman Stone said that the current buildings at Davis have been there since the station was commissioned in 1979. The living quarters were built to accommodate only 25 expeditioners and with a design life of 25 years.

“Time and weather have taken their toll on the buildings, and accommodation space is becoming inadequate given the increasing numbers of research scientists and support personnel spending time in Antarctica as part of the Australian Antarctic Program,” Dr Stone said.

Expressions of interest for a feasibility study were called in October 2002. Tenders were recently let to four consultants.

New South Wales architectural firm Allen Jack and Cottier, Victorian structural engineers Hyder Consulting, Fibre Composites Design Development (FCDD) in Queensland and Tasmanian services engineers firm, SEMF Holdings are working with AAD engineers to determine an appropriate design for an accommodation building.

Dr Stone said that the parties would consider some of the newest technology able to withstand the extremes of Antarctic weather conditions.

“This will include examining the viability of the world’s first, fully fibre composite building. Serious consideration will be given to this medium because of time and cost saving capabilities as well as its endurance and insulation properties.”

Dr Stone said that the cost of the feasibility study was $120,000 and would be completed in April.