Officials have picked out a design for a new-look Scott Base, as part of a multi-million-dollar upgrade of New Zealand's Antarctic outpost.

The preferred redevelopment option would see the existing base – a network of 12 separate buildings built in the 1980s – transformed into three large interconnected buildings, with a separate helicopter hangar.

The new base could accommodate up to 100 people at a time.

Of the three buildings one is designated for accommodation, dining and welfare, the second for science and management and the third for engineering and storage.


The buildings will be elevated above the ground to allow the wind to pass underneath, reducing the amount of snow drift around the base.

The curved shape also helped wind - which have been known to reach up to nearly 180km at Ross Island's Pram Point - to flow around the buildings.

While a concept design released today showed the new base coloured in its characteristic green – the specific shade on the existing base is called Chelsea cucumber green – colour schemes, along with layout and other features, were yet to be finalised.

The revamp was made possible with an extra $18 million ear-marked in this year's Budget.

The funding, to be used over the next two years, meant the detailed design of the new base could be completed and planners could start working with the construction industry on how best to deliver the preferred design.

Scott Base Redevelopment senior project manager Simon Shelton said the funding boost was welcome news, as the current base reached the end of its functional life.

"At the moment, we have to mitigate increasing points of failure at Scott Base; the buildings, materials and systems are deteriorating with age," Shelton said.

"We are looking forward to moving to the next stage of the development process and supporting the Antarctic science community with safe, fit-for-purpose infrastructure."


Jasmax and Hugh Broughton Architects came up with the architectural design.

Jasmax principal architect Stephen Middleton said their hope is to design a base that would "capture the essence of what it means to be a New Zealander".

"The design team has been working with Iwi and the Antarctic Heritage Trust to incorporate stories, culture and values, and reflect our history of involvement in Antarctica through design."

The Government looked at four different options, picking the one best considered to boost science capabilities, improve staff living conditions and future-proof the base for the next 50 years.

Scott Base is current comprised of 12 buildings built in the 1980s. Image / Antarctica New Zealand
Scott Base is current comprised of 12 buildings built in the 1980s. Image / Antarctica New Zealand

"Scott Base is vital for the future of New Zealand's science programme and for our work with upholding the Antarctic Treaty system with 2019 marking the 60th year since it was signed," Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said.

"And of course Scott Base is part of our cultural history from when Sir Ed Hillary founded it in 1957."

While Cabinet had agreed in principle to the design concept, a final implementation business plan was required to be presented to Cabinet, and the total project cost would be subject to a future budget round.

Antarctica New Zealand chief executive Sarah Williamson said Scott Base remained New Zealand's home on the ice, and served as a strategic hub for scientists from here and across the globe to carry out some of the most important research in the world.

"It is critical to get this work underway now, as the climate and logistical challenges mean construction projects take longer to deliver in Antarctica."


• Scott Base, New Zealand's only Antarctic research station, perches on a low volcanic headland called Pram Point at the southern end of Ross Island. It is 3800km south of Christchurch and 1350km from the South Pole.

• From October to February, Scott Base is a bustling hub of scientists, staff and visitors. Up to 86 people can be accommodated at any one time; during the summer season, more than 300 people stay on base.

• The coldest temperature ever recorded at Scott Base was -57C, in September 1968. Throughout winter, it's common for the mercury to drop into the mid-40s.