The Icehotel, built annually in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, has always been as fleeting as it is beautiful, eventually melting away to nothing. Joining the 27th Icehotel this year, though, is Icehotel 365 – a newly opened hotel made of ice that will stay open all year round as the others come and go.
The Icehotel 365 covers 2,100 sq m (22,600 sq ft), with outer concrete walls that are required for the structure to be permanent and inner walls that are made of snow and ice. It is built using 30,000 l (6,600 gal) of water, harvested in the form of snow and ice, from the Torne River. The walls and ceilings covered in a mixture of snow and ice called "snice" and the internal temperature is kept at -5° C (23° F).
In order to maintain that temperature, a refrigerating plant is used that is powered by 875 sq m (9,400 sq ft) of solar panels producing 130,000 kWh per year. This is expected to not only cover the running of the plant, but provide a surplus that can be used to power other facilities like restaurants, offices and warm rooms. The system benefits from Jukkasjärvi's location 200 km (124 mi) north of the Arctic Circle, which means that the sun doesn't set for 100 days during the summer months.
The permanent hotel was designed to be reminiscent of the traditional Icehotels. It houses 20 suites, an ice bar and a gallery of ice artworks. Guests can stay in Art Suites or Deluxe Suites, each of which has its own unique art, but the latter suites are also heated, boast private saunas, showers and bathtubs and have additional amenities adjacent to the room.
Over 40 artists, designers and architects have created the artworks at Icehotel 365, some of which will melt during the year and will need to be continuously replaced. This means it will be constantly changing. The Art Suites feature puns, angels and underwater worlds made of ice, while the Deluxe Suites use ice to create a 1920s era interactive story, a maze, a forest of crystals and a riff on Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss."
Among the activities available to guests are the chance to plunge into the river and sauna like a local, create their own ice sculptures, learn how to build a shelter and make fire with flint on a half-day wilderness survival course, and take a village walk through Jukkasjärvi. For the duration of Icehotel 27, Michelin-trained chef Alexander Meier will be serving a locally-inspired menu, which will include fir sprouts, cloudberries and sea-buckthorn.
This is the first time in the world something like this has ever been built," says Icehotel CEO Yngve Bergqvist in a press release. "The idea for Icehotel 365 came about a year ago and the building plans has been intense since then."
The Icehotel 365 took only five months to build, with the first groundwork laid on June 27. There are still some minor details to finish, like fastening reindeer skins to the walls and covering some ceilings in snice, but the hotel is now operational, having opened at the end of November.
The temporary Icehotel for 2016/17, meanwhile, will be completed on December 16. The 27th iteration, it will house 55 rooms, including 26 Art Suites and 9 Deluxe Suites. It will also feature an ice chapel, an ice gallery and an ice bar.
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