Antarctic Ice Shelves

shlice layout photo

In November-December 2005, I collaborated with Melbourne architect (and old friend) Stuart Harrison to create a suite for the Ice Hotel, Sweden. In my whole life I don’t think I have ever worked as hard as I did that fortnight.

For a page with videos, slides, photographs and plans about our project, see Stuart’s website here.

Our contribution involved the construction of a wall that described a surface based on a recent photograph of Antarctica taken from space.

The surface design was achieved by mapping software which reads “heights” from tonal variations in the image. Ice brick lines laid in horizontal layers were sculpted (with chainsaws) in stages, and then stacked and “glued” with water, before being smoothed (with ice chisels) to create the surface. Lights were installed within the wall, and a tunnel dug around it, providing access to the back of it.

We wanted to bring Antarctica with us, as representatives of the southern hemisphere. The form of the great ice continent was (sort of) readable in the wall sculpture, but creative “misreadings” (akin to “reading” clouds) were more common.

Ice Shelves are “thick, floating platforms of ice that form where a glacier or ice sheet flows down to a coastline and onto the ocean surface” (read more about them here). You can see some pictures of (real) Antarctic Ice Shelves here.

It was a “lotta job”, and we couldn’t have done it without our ice sculpture guru, Mats “The Master” Nilsson, and our American friend “Something About” Mary. Thanks to you both.

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