Ice architecture: the world’s tallest ice tower and the Icehotel

Igloos are probably the best-known form of ice architecture, providing a paradoxically sounding relatively warm home in an area where hardly other building materials are available. To show what a great building material snow and ice can be, a group of Dutch, Flemish, and Chinese students built the tallest ice tower ever built, made from fibre-reinforced ice, which opens tomorrow. In addition, in December, the 28th edition of the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, was opened.

Flamenco Ice Tower
The international group of students from the Dutch Technological University Eindhoven and the Chinese Harbin Institute of Technology built the tallest self-supporting ice construction, improving their own record from 21 to 30 metres (69 to 98 feet).

To make the construction stronger, the ice is mixed with cellulose. The composite material is a reliable building material, as it is strong even at thicknesses of only 3-5 centimetres.

The design consists of a 30-metre high vertical tube with 6 entrances. To enter the centre of the tower the audience has to climb one of the six staircases made of transparent solid ice blocks. The ice blocks in the staircases are illuminated similar to most of the solid ice structures in the ice festival.

The aim of the project is to promote the composite material, which is completely renewable as a solution for temporary constructions in cold areas, Mars missions, and events.

The name, Flamenco Ice Tower, was chosen because the shape of the tower is based on the shape of traditional Chinese towers and a flamenco dress.

The tower was built at Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, an annual winter festival that takes place in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, and is currently the largest ice and snow festival in the world.

On 16 December 2017, the Icehotel was finished, consisting of 35 uniquely designed art and deluxe suites, an ice bar, an ice chapel and an ice gallery. Over 70 artists, designers, and architects from 15 countries around the world have helped to create the art in this year’s version of the hotel.

The amount of snow used to create the hotel’s 55 rooms would be enough to make 700 million snowballs! For the chandeliers in the main hall 1,000 handmade ice crystals were used.

Only part of the hotel is permanent, called Icehotel 365. The rest will, unfortunately, melt come spring.

Photos: / Icehotel