Frozen architecture projects are in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere at the peak of winter. One such project is a collaboration of Dutch and Chinese students and professors. The Flamenco Ice Tower stands 31 meters tall in China and its walls have an average thickness of only 25 cm.
The tower is located in the Chinese city of Harbin and is inspired by traditional Chinese architecture. However, the Flamenco Ice Tower gets its name from the Andalusian flamenco dress, which is evident in the billowing section close to the ground.
Even though the team is calling it the world’s largest ice shell, it is not made just from frozen water. Wood fibres and cellulose were mixed into the ice which add strength to it. The team confirmed that adding these fibres increases the strength of the ice three times.
The tower was not built overnight and it took two long, cold years to complete with the students and professors having to withstand -25 degrees Celsius temperatures. The construction started when basic foundations made from ice blocks were laid. Next, a huge balloon was inflated which took the shape of the tower. Then, the fibre-reinforced ice mixture was sprayed on top of the balloon. once it was solid enough the balloon was removed. This resulted in the tower with its deep interior space.
The team says that ice construction is a sustainable and recyclable building method and can be easily employed in cold climates like Serbia and maybe one day Mars. They are also planning to make more ice structures for the Olympic Winter Games which are going to be held in China in 2022.