One of the things that make water a tricky building material is that it just happens to dramatically change around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as you can keep water frozen, it can be an interesting building material – the only real problem is keeping it frozen. Keeping ice frozen in the desert might present a particularly interesting challenge.
That’s a challenge that architects Acht Frankfurt and Ambivalenz ltd. are prepared to accept with Blue Crystal, an ice lodge hotel slated for the desert city of Dubai. While Dubai has gotten into the habit of building absurdly over-the-top structures, this ice hotel might take the cake. On top of it being an ice building in the middle of the desert, it will also be entirely self-sustained.
That’s right; the hotel will use enough energy to keep the hotel frigid, all on its own energy supply. This claim is impressive as it is dubious, as keeping a hotel powered and frozen might not be as easy as the architects envision. It’s particularly odd to hear this claim considering the context. Sustainability is a buzzword now with the environmentalism movement, but the whole point of sustainability is to be efficient and green. With Blue Cyrstal, it sounds like they don’t really care about being green, just about showing off. I couldn’t design a building that shouted “Look at me!” more desperately if I tried.
Nonetheless, the design of Blue Crystal is cool. It resembles the smooth, polished look of free-floating icebergs, and the clear water will undoubtedly shimmer brilliantly in the Dubai sun. Much like an iceberg, Blue Crystal will float in the bay, attached to land by a tether. Inside the lodge, visitors can enjoy underwater lounge, a ballroom, and 6 rooms of entertainment.
It’s all quite impressive, but I feel like the building misses the point. The whole reason why we’re trying to make sustainable buildings is because we want to help the environment. That doesn’t seem like an environmental project; it seems like they’re trying to make it sustainable just because it will impress people, in much the same way that we will be impressed when we hear about an ice lodge in the desert. It’s a bit like driving a super-charged Ferrari through your neighborhood, revving the engine loud enough to make sure everybody looks, and then bragging, “And by the way, it gets 100 miles to the gallon.” At that point, you just sound like a jerk.