Architecture Comes in Cycles at the Ice Hotel
March 15, 2012
“Diamond Genesis by Roland Toupet and architect Antoine Weygand; All photos: Ice Hotel
Describing his theoretical sketches for an “Alpine Architektur”, architect and writer Bruno Taut envisioned a series of glass structures to crown the peaks of the European Alps, with jagged transparent forms that would appear as “crystals in eternal ice and snow–covered and adorned with areas and blocks of colored glass–mountain blooms.” Each year, the artists and architects behind the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden take Taut’s premise one step further by constructing entire crystalline palaces exclusively out of ice and snow.
Founded in 1989, the hotel is comprised of several dozen themed rooms and pavilions–”art suites”–each one designed by a different artist and crafted in solid blocks of ice, mounds of snow, and vats of poured “snice”, an aggregate of snow and ice frozen to form a denser, concrete-like material. Beginning at the start of the winter, usually around the end of November, the fanciful creations are assembled from a mix of prefabricated sections, recycled ice-blocks, and snice cast in-situ and left standing through March or April of the following year, when they are dismantled and their ice blocks harvested for the next year’s build. Continue.
Of the new 21 suites constructed for the 2011-2012 season, designer Roland Toupet and architect Antoine Weygand‘s “Diamond Genesis” easily stands out for its expertly executed catalan vaults and custom made furniture, such as the ice-encased bed and ice-block chairs. The surface of the vaults has been engraved with a repeating geometric figure, so when taken as a whole, the ceiling reads like a curved field of stars. The room is closed on both ends by large walls of ice blocks, through which light falls and refracts, scattering in all directions. “Be prepared to squint,” warn the duo of the glare, as the spent light reflects off the snow floor and the prism-like fixtures to blinding effect.
The geometric rectitude of Diamond Genesis is in stark contrast with last year’s standout, Bubblesuite by Dutch artists Wilfred Stijger & Edith van de Wetering. That room featured a large mattress amid amorphous conglomerations of compacted spherical units of ice, encroaching on dozing guests from every corner. The artist couple developed a tool to sculpt the perfect spheres found everywhere from the walls of the chamber to the ice orbs lay strewn along the floor. The Ice Hotel is now receiving design submissions for the 2013 winter season art suites.