Raising the roof

Credit: Antarctic Heritage Trust

Antarctic Heritage Trust has finished the last major job of saving Sir Edmund Hillary’s hut at Scott Base – installing a new roof.

The Trust raised nearly a million dollars to save the hut, also known as the TAE/IGY Hut, which was built by a team under Sir Ed’s leadership in 1957 just before his famous dash to the South Pole.

While working to conserve Hillary’s (TAE) Hut in 2016, the need for a weather-tight long-term roofing solution was identified. 

Programme Manager Al Fastier says the Trust wanted the roofing solution to last a minimum of 35 years but more likely 50 to 100 years. A plan was then developed to overclad the historic roof, meaning the original roof remained intact.

A key feature of the newly restored hut is the painted aluminium roof, complete with new battens painted in the original bright orange.

“It gives it a real point of difference,” says Fastier, a long time visitor to the ice.

Assembling the battens for the roof

For specialist Standing Seam roofer, Mike Burgess, the conditions provided a job unlike anything he had ever tackled.

“I’ve never been that cold,” says Burgess, who had to race indoors on the odd occasion to regain feeling in his hands.

The project manager for Architectural Metalformers is used to working through complicated roofing projects in rural, commercial and urban environments - less so in the world’s harshest environment.

“The opportunity to waterproof such an important New Zealand building with our product, while endeavouring to make it visually similar to the original aesthetic could not be passed up, regardless of the weather complexities,” Burgess says.

Not one to opt out of a challenge, Burgess combined his more than 20 years in the business, with further research, to come up with the robust long term waterproof roofing solution.

The Trust acknowledges, Architectural Metalformers, Pacific Coilcoaters, Sika NZ, Nexus Foams and Dulux New Zealand for their donated products and technical assistance.

Chris Ansin, Al Fastier and Geoff Cooper taking a break on the roof of the hut.

Antarctic Programme Manager Al Fastier working on the roof


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