Located in the small village of Jukkasjärvi in northern Sweden 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, ICEHOTEL may be the epitomy of ephemeral and temporal architecture. The world’s first and largest hotel built out of snow and ice is an inhabitable work of art that takes on a new form each year. The existence of the ICEHOTEL is entirely reliant upon the climate and Torne River, from which the 4000 tonnes of ice are harvested each year between March and April. The architecture is a form of exhibition as well. Each year artists are handpicked to design and build the Art Suites within the ICEHOTEL. The whole process invoved about 100 people and is constructed between November and December.
ICEHOTEL began as a workshop and art exhibit by founder Yngve Bergqvist in 1989 when he invited artists to participate in workshop led by two Japanese ice sculptors. The first project unveiled was a 60 m2 igloo named ARTic Hall. The following years, ARTic Hall grew to 250 m2. The technique and final product attracted favorable attention and was used for church services, films and a bar. The technique was patented and protected and soon guests began to stay overnight – now two decades later, ICEHOTEL is thriving on the unique experiences it offers and the artistry it exhibits. The amenities offered at the hotel include access to the wilderness of the Arctic Circle, views of the Northern Lights, warm accomodations and the ICEBAR, among many others.
Guests sleep in sleeping bags, atop reindeer hides and matresses that cover a block of ice. ICEHOTEL promises that the room temperature never falls below minus eight degrees Celcius, which provides just enough insulation to protect the ice from melting and exhilirate guests awake. The hotel has 47 rooms which accomodate approximately 50 – 60,000 guests per year. It closes in mid-April as the ice begins to melt, providing a clean slate for the following year as the water runs back into the Torne River.
Already using all natural materials and man power, ICEHOTEL is continuing its effort to be CO2 negative by 2015 by incorporating renewable energy used such as wind, hydro, solar energy and biofuels. The effort is an example of what could be done even in the most severe climates: where it is dark and cold for the most of the year.