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Is Halley the best of the best?

I was prompted on Facebook by Peter Ayres, who was the engineer on Halley VI, to vote for it in New Civil Engineer’s poll of the ‘best of the best’ British Construction Industry Awards winners.

The awards are now 30 years old, and the magazine has picked out the projects that it thinks deserve to be shortlisted for this accolade. They include the crossover cavern in the Channel Tunnel and the Second Severn Crossing, as well as more architectural projects such as Broadgate, the Velodrome, the Shard and, of course, Halley.

Which I voted for, partly because I have been closely connected with it throughout its construction, albeit at a distance. And because, while ‘unique’ is a much over-used word, it is appropriate here. No project is more distant from ‘civilisation’, or demanded more pre-planning coupled with on-the-spot ingenuity.

It is a remarkable achievement by all concerned. It helped to make the career of architect Hugh Broughton, and nobody who worked on it was untouched by the experience. I just hope it is still there. For the first time in decades, BAS did not overwinter at Halley, because of fears of the unpredictable behaviour of an unstable ice crack. I presume that the station has survived the Antarctic winter (surely satellite imagery would have shown us if it had not) but the BAS team will doubtless return with considerable trepidation in November.

In the meantime, I’ve voted for it. What will you choose?

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