Wood Windows Conquer Freezing Antarctic Challenge

Wed 09 Sep 2015

Wood windows can stand up to even the harshest weather conditions and still last a lifetime, and there is no tougher environment than the Antarctic Peninsula to put this to the test.

When the United Kingdom Antarctica Heritage Trust (UKAHT) decided it was time to restore their historic research huts on the Antarctic Peninsula, they chose Wood Window Alliance (WWA) member JELD-WEN’s timber windows as the ideal replacement, more than 60 years after the company supplied the original timber huts. 

The new timber windows, made to WWA specifications, match the originals for Bransfield House, the main hut at Port Lockroy and one of the first permanent bases in Antarctica.

Bransfield House was first used as a British Government base during World War II to report on enemy shipping activity in the South Atlantic and provide weather reports. After the war, the research centre conducted geology, meteorology and botany, and in 1996 it was converted into a museum that attracts over 10,000 visitors from around the world who want to experience the unique Antarctic environment. 

JELD-WEN’s Technical Director (recently retired) Ian Purkis said: “There is nothing like these historic Antarctic huts anywhere else in the World. The originals really do show how good quality timber stands the test of time, even against the most adverse climatic conditions. They are often 40 degrees below freezing and nearly seven decades old. There are no harsher conditions than the Antarctic. It clearly demonstrates how, back then as today, our products are built to last! It’s almost unbelievable that we are able to get involved with this unique project again over 60 years later.’

The timber windows for the project were faithful reproductions of the originals, ensuring that Bransfield House was conserved in an authentic condition along with many of the internal features and contents, all part of the overall conservation project.

Timber was chosen for the windows because it is sustainable, durable and a natural insulator, all of which enables it to withstand the extreme weather conditions of the Antarctic much better than any other material. 

Protecting the environment was also a key concern. Timber has natural non-polluting characteristics that will help the base comply with their regular environmental audits. Antarctica is one of the most unpolluted, unspoilt landscapes on earth, and using a natural, sustainable product such as timber is all part of keeping it that way.

Tudor Morgan, Project Manager from the United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT), commented: “Port Lockroy and the wider Antarctic region are of tremendous historical importance to Britain, with Ernest Shakleton and Captain Scott pioneering exploration of the continent in the early 20th century. Therefore, upgrading the existing hut and building with new windows was an integral element of preserving the history of the area and we are pleased that, as we have connections with JELD-WEN, they are supplying the windows.” 

All members of the Wood Window Alliance have to meet strict quality, performance and sustainability standards. For more information on the Wood Window Alliance or on this story, or for high res images, contact wwa@speedcomms.com or call 0117 906 7008.

To find out more about The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust visit the website http://www.ukaht.org/