With winter in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, 'tis the season for frozen architecture projects, such as the Icehotel and SnowVillage. Similarly, a team of Dutch and Chinese students and professors have built a 31 m (101 ft)-tall ice tower in China that features walls with an average thickness of just 25 cm (9.84-in).
The Flamenco Ice Tower is located in the Chinese city of Harbin, which is home to MAD's Opera House and an international ice and snow sculpture festival. Its design is inspired by traditional Chinese architecture and the shape of the Andalusian flamenco dress, which is reflected in the billowing section nearest the ground.
The team refers to the tower as the "world's largest ice shell." However, it's not made from frozen water alone. Crucially, construction involved mixing wood fibers and cellulose into the ice, which reinforces it. Indeed, the team says that the added fibers makes the ice three times stronger than standard ice.
The Flamenco Ice Tower was two years in the making. The construction process was pretty involved and required the students and professors to brave -25 °C (-13 °F) temperatures.
First, basic foundations made from ice blocks were laid and then a huge balloon in the shape of the tower was inflated, before the fiber-reinforced ice mixture was sprayed over the inflatable using hoses to give the tower its shape. The balloon was then removed, leaving the tower and a cavernous interior space.
The team hails its ice construction as a sustainable and recyclable building method and envisions it proving useful for temporary buildings in extreme climates like Siberia, or even Mars. It plans to construct more ice structures for the Olympic Winter Games, to be held in China in 2022.
Source: Structural Ice
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