Structures designed in the Low Countries: the ice shell Flamenco tower

The Flamenco Ice Tower in Harbin, China

With the cold weather upon us, we wanted to share this fascinating ice shell project with you.

An international team of students and professors from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Summa College, the Netherlands, and Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), China, have completed the largest ice shell ever after two years of preparation.

by Qiyu3

TU/e and HIT realized this architectural ice structure, the “Flamenco Ice Tower”, in the ice capital of the world, Harbin. This Chinese city is well known for its international ice and snow sculpture festival. The ice tower is located at the Maple Village Outlet Company. The team improved the 2015 record of 21 meters to 31 meters in 2018. In previous years, Dutch students completed various ice structures in Finland as well: the Pykrete Dome in 2014, the Sagrada Familia in Ice in 2015, and the Bridge in Ice 2016. Further, in cooperation with HIT they realized a small pilot of the Flamenco Ice Tower on the architectural campus of HIT China last winter.

The design of the Flamenco Ice Tower is based on the shape of traditional Chinese towers and the flamenco dress. The thin shell structure of 31 meters is made with an average thickness of 25 cm of fiber-reinforced ice sprayed on a huge balloon. It is possible to build large thin-shell structures by reinforcing ice with natural fibers such as wood fibers. These fibers make the ice much stronger and create a reliable building material. This sustainable, fully recyclable building material can be a solution for temporary constructions in cold areas, events or even Mars missions. HIT and TU/e intend to cooperate in the realization of ice structures for the Olympic Winter Games that will be held in China in 2022.

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