To quote House Stark from the hit TV and book series by George R. R. Martin, “Winter is coming.” Many of the leaves have already changed color and fallen away. The air is growing colder. People are pulling their warmer winter clothes out of storage. And you know what else that means?
I always get excited when I get to write about frozen architecture, because it’s such a rare and interesting topic. Part of the reason for its rarity is that you can generally only create ice buildings during the dead of winter. The other big setback is that ice buildings are temporary, so they’re usually tied to a rare event, like a festival. (Harbin’s world famous Ice and Snow Festival comes to mind).
Luckily, this year we won’t have to cross the Pacific to check out some truly innovative frozen buildings. Our Canadian neighbors to the north might be getting out their snow shovels to build frozen teepees for snow-loving hikers this winter.
The city of Winnipeg is hosting the Warming Huts Contest, which invites architects and designers to submit proposals for small, temporary buildings that will be placed along a local skating trail. Hikers, skaters, and hockey players will be able to hang out inside the winning hut design all through winter.
Swedish architecture firm Visiondivision has come up with a frosty design that’s sure to delight the kid in all of us. To sum it up very briefly, Visiondivision wants to build gigantic tent-sized snow cones!
But it’s so much more than just a bunch of ice and sugary syrup. Their innovative design will only use local materials, and construction won’t involve any waste byproduct or energy-hogging machinery. All they’ll need is a pump, some shovels, and a bit of elbow grease to build the teepees. They also plan to infuse sawdust into the wood, which is an ancient technique used by the Native Americans to make the ice more resistant to melting.
Finally, as the metaphorical cherry on top, they will harvest fruits, berries, and plants from Canada’s six time zones and mix the juice into the ice as it freezes. The end result will be a village of habitable snow cones, like something out of a fantastical candy land. Canadians would just need candy cane hockey sticks and gumdrop hats, and they’d be good to go!
One of the coolest things about these teepees is that Visiondivision designed them with the melting process in mind. Inevitably, the teepees will melt once spring rolls around. At that point the teepees will act as a time-released perfume as the flower-infused ice gradually releases sweet scents into the open air. It reminds me of that phrase, “I hate for you to leave but I love to watch you go.” I’m honestly not sure which I would prefer: huddling under a massive purple igloo, or enjoying the beautiful scents as the colorful village melts beneath the March sun.
I’ve come across frozen architecture before, but I think that this is the first one that actually addresses the issue of melting ice. It makes sense — if you’re going to build a temporary installation, why not emphasize its ephemeral qualities to enhance its aesthetic?
Temporary art installations have a unique sort of beauty — they make viewers feel as though they are privy to something that only a select few will ever get to experience. This makes them ideal for festivals, parties, or other high-profile events. You may want to consider a temporary aquatic installation for your next big shindig… an icy waterfall, a swimming pool transformed into a temporary floating garden, or miniature aquariums that dot the party grounds. Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to think in the short term! Your guests will delight in the fact that they’re privy to such a unique and fleeting art form!