Beyonds igloos, sculptures, and Sweden’s ICEHOTEL, ice is not often seen as building material. An international team of Dutch-end Chinese students and professors from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Summa College, and the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) have used the freezing material to construct “Flamenco Ice Tower” in Harbin, China - the home of the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.
The eye-catching tower’s design was inspired by the shape of traditional Chinese towers and the flamenco dress. It stands at a mighty 31 meters tall, the equivalency of a 6-story building, making it the world’s largest ice shell - 10 meters taller than the team’s previous attempt in 2015.
The key behind the tower’s success is using a fiber-reinforced ice. Natural fibers, such as wood, are blended with the ice to strengthen it, generating an extremely reliable building material. This discovery could hold solutions for temporary construction in cold area, events or even a Mars mission.
To construct the large tower, a balloon was first assembled and inflated to both act as the base and serve as the mold for the structure’s interior. An average thickness of 25 cm of the fiber-reinforced ice was then sprayed onto the balloon. Once all of the ice had been sprayed and settled, the bright blue balloon was then deflated and removed to reveal a smooth, white surface on the interior. The construction of the ice tower can be seen in the video below:
The official opening of the Flamenco Ice Tower was held on January 10 by the Dutch Ambassador, and the TU/e and the HIT intend to continue with the possibility of ice structures for the Olympic Winter Games in 2022.