Interiors & Architecture 17/12/2017

ICEHOTEL Sweden 2018: The Final Build Phase

A geometric hole structure in the ice sculpted ICEHOTEL in Sweden

Today we continue our exclusive look into the making of the 2018 ICEHOTEL Sweden. In case you missed the first phase, you can catch up here. This is the last stage of the build, before the unveiling of the full design!

Throughout December, Chalk & Moss has followed applied artist/furniture designer Hugh Miller and architect/landscape designer Howard Miller on their exciting Arctic adventure. They won the competition to design one of the rooms of this spectacular boutique hotel made of ice and snow.

If you missed the first phase of the 2018 ICEHOTEL build coverage on Chalk & Moss, you can catch up here. In the coming week we’ll unveil the final design, so sign up to the newsletter not to miss it!

Biophilic Design works on the understanding that humans need to connect with nature for us to feel happy, healthy, productive and creative. This understanding applies to all the spaces we occupy, from homes and hotels to offices, hospitals and schools. This interior design and architecture approach seeks to join natural elements, materials, textures, sights, smells and sounds to make us feel at ease. The ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, 200km north of Sweden’s Arctic Circle, has a wonderful connection with nature. The very foundations of the hotel’s structure come from when the clear water of the Torne River freezes. Each year, the hotel harvests two tonnes of ice blocks for use by 20 artists from around the world. From these blocks, come magical rooms, a bar and a wedding chapel with ice sculptures throughout. The hotel sits in the midst of the rugged beauty of the Arctic landscape.

The ICEHOTEL Sweden for the 2018 season is nearly finished. We’ve followed the six week journey with Hugh and Howard Miller. This is the last phase of their design, called “A Rich Seam”. Their winning design idea is based on digging a mine until a seam of ice is found, and continuing digging for more discoveries.

Now over to Hugh Miller to tell us what they’re up to…

The Construction of ICEHOTEL Sweden for 2018 Continues

The sign for Hugh and Howard Miller's room at the ICEHOTEL 2018: A Rich Seam. This theme is based on digging through snow and ice for a seam, and then continuing digging further for more discovery.

A Rich Seam: The second week saw our room sign installed! This is always a really exciting moment for us! Our theme explores the idea of digging through snow in a mine to find a seam in the ice, then continuing digging to make new discoveries.

ICEHOTEL Sweden is built entirely of ice. The ice blocks have here been delivered, ready for carving.

Ice delivery day! A tractor has just brought in two tonnes of ice for use in our room design. There are 6 pieces of ice per pallet, each weighing about 200kg.

Howard begins to cut up the pieces of ice with a chainsaw. It’s very heavy, slow work, and relies on having a very sharp chainsaw blade.

Clear as ice, literally. Cutting ice blocks, building the structure at ICEHOTEL Sweden

I love this image; it looks like a chainsaw in a fish tank. When we polish the ice, it’s clear as glass. But you also get these beautiful pockets of air bubbles and other things in there. These look like waves running through the solid ice.

Building the ICEHOTEL involves sawing 200kg ice blocks that have come from the nearby river. They are cut up with chain saws and then cleaned up.

The heavy work of sawing up the ice blocks. We often have to saw from both sides, so there’s a bit of clean-up needed before installing the ice in the walls.

Building the ICEHOTEL - special equipment is needed to lift heavy ice blocks to construct the walls

Installing some of the heavier blocks is dangerous, as they are so heavy and slippery. So we used this brilliant lifting contraption to lift the biggest blocks in to place. This block weighed 150kg.

Snow canons at sunset at ICEHOTEL Sweden, helping make the right kind of snow for the construction of ICEHOTEL

The snow cannons are running at ICEHOTEL, making a tiny wet ice crystal type of snow. This is perfect for casting the rooms, as it sets very hard.

Snice is snow and ice, used as a sticky glue in the construction of the snow and ice hotel. Here are Hugh and Howard Miller hard at work on ICEHOTEL Sweden 2018.

To repair holes and imperfections in the snow (bits of gravel, dirt and ice), you have to prepare a special type of snow called ‘snice’. This loose, un-compacted snow is heated a little with a heat gun until it gets ‘sticky’. You can then use it a bit like Polyfilla, rubbing it into the hole and then we sand it off with sandpaper.

Ice and cold temperatures can be a tricky combination, as the chainsaw stops working. Constructing the ICEHOTEL is not easy task!

The chainsaws break quite often. They get clogged with ice and then freeze. The snow is also very abrasive on the blades, so you have to keep changing the blade. It’s not an easy job at the best of times, but when it’s -27c, your fingers don’t work so well. So the job can quite frustrating. This makes the reward of seeing the scheme come together even greater!

Ice sculpting to get the right building effects in the ICEHOTEL Sweden 2018

We wanted the ceiling of the ICEHOTEL room to look like carved stone, so we added this texture. Our room, “A Rich Seam”, is based on the way mines are dug out. So we wanted it to have a crafted, dug-out feel. It took a lot of testing to find the right mark, and this is what we ended up with. This part of the project was really successful, and a big hit with the other artists.

The ceiling of the ice sculpted ceiling structure at the ICEHOTEL

This is the completed ceiling, showing the ice carving.

The central hall entrance to the ICEHOTEL Sweden 2018. Here, 20 artists work on different rooms. Having won the design competition individually, they now work as a team to complete the hotel in time for guests arriving.

This is the great hall at ICEHOTEL Sweden. It’s around 5-6 meters tall and over 100m in length. It’s a beautiful space, especially when the lighting was added to the columns. This is the route to our room each morning.

Three more hotel rooms are constructed at the ICEHOTEL, spraying icy snow

Casting another three hotel rooms at around 3pm. As you can imagine, it gets very cold when they spray all that wet snow around.

Sunset at ICEHOTEL lasts many hours. In the summer, midnight sun keeps it light pretty much around the clock.

With all the hard work on the ICEHOTEL construction, it’s easy to forget what a magical, beautiful place this is. We have 4 hours of perpetual sunset each day, and the light is just gorgeous. The rest of the time it’s totally dark!

The lighting design in the ICEHOTEL Sweden is very different to other lighting projects, as only a small amount of lighting is needed to not make everything white.

Testing the lights. Each room has a lighting designer, who works with us to get the lighting right. This is really important, as the snow is more reflective than a mirror – a small bit of light is all that’s needed, or everything looks white. We ended up using black electrical tape to just leave a tiny sliver of each LED bulb. Then a dimming filter was added to each light. We dimmed the whole arrangement to its lowest setting. This created a lovely atmosphere, but we decided to increase the number of lights, to make the seam of ice stand out more from the snow.

A geometric hole structure in the ice sculpted ICEHOTEL in Sweden

This is a hole we made in the ice seam, just inside the entrance to our designed room at the ICEHOTEL. We sanded and added frozen cubes to the hole, so it appeared like an organic but geometric growth of ice.

The first night the rom we build at the Swedish ICEHOTEL, above the Arctic Circle

Finally there – on the last night, we slept in our completed ice room! This is a picture of me with my sleeping-bag in the foreground, looking out from the bed cave. It’s lovely to sleep in a cold room like that, there’s something very clean about the air.

 

Don’t miss the unveiling of the finished ICEHOTEL Sweden, 2018 season

Hugh and Howard Miller have now completed their ICEHOTEL adventure in Sweden, and are almost ready to unveil the full scheme. Don’t miss this exciting announcement this week! You can keep up to date on this, and other nature connected design with the Chalk & Moss newsletter.

Update: You can now see the final design here and the other room schemes here.

Scandinavia has so much inspiring architecture with an intimate connection to its stunning landscape, many of which are available for holiday rentals. You won’t want to miss this glass cabin cantilevered above the water in the Norwegian Manshausen resort above the Arctic Circle, and this cosy mountain cabin that reflects the Norwegian way of life.

If winter, cold and ice is what makes you feel alive, but you also appreciate the cosy side of life, do head over to these seasonal gifts and homewares in the shop.

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