Cape Adare’s historic huts – A comparison of the construction methods

Bryan Pooley, School of Architecture, University of Auckland

Three huts were constructed at Ridley Beach, Cape Adare during what has become known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration (1895 to 1917). These are Borchgrevink’s living and stores huts; 2) Scott’s Northern Party Hut, which is known as Campbell’s Hut.

The two huts used by Carsten Borchgrevink’s Southern Cross Expedition (1899-1900) party to accomplish the first Antarctic land “winter over”, although deteriorating, are still intact whereas Campbell’s hut, that formed part of Scott’s 1911 British Antarctic Expedition, has disintegrated. The development of a constructional premise to explain the disintegration of Scott’s Northern Party Hut is the subject of this article.


The height of Campbell’s hut was its main design flaw and this was recognized by Priestly:

“The great height of the hut was obviously a drawback, for it doubled the resistance to the wind and much increased the amount of time taken up with its erection.”

But it has to be acknowledged that durability beyond the immediate use was not a major consideration for Antarctic parties.

The experience of the Norwegians in building adverse weather condition structures has been demonstrated in the well-constructed and sturdy hut Cape Adare hut. The fact that it has survived to the present day is testimony to the fact. Apart from the problems of ventilation and lighting it was adequately comfortable and combined with the additional space of the stores hut and the use of snow tunnels sufficient room was provided to allow the men to work away from each other reducing the stresses experienced by other expeditions.

Issue 1 Volume 9

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