The Legacy of the River is a futuristic ice suite designed for Sweden’s famous Ice Hotel and inspired by Disney’s Tron: Legacy.
Translating the film’s futuristic sets and dramatic lighting, British product designer Ben Rousseau of Rousseau Design and architect Ian Douglas-Jones founder of I-N-D-J Architecture + Design, worked within harsh conditions – some days reaching as low as 32°C – completing the scheme in Jukkasjärvi, 200km into the Arctic Circle, in just 12 days.
Each year the Ice Hotel puts out an international competition – ‘a 50/50 mix of experienced returning artists and fresh faced rookies,’ as Douglas-Jones puts it, adding: ‘For new artists like me it’s a big learning curve.’
The Legacy of the River will be one of 19 unique ice suites designed for the hotel’s 20-year anniversary. The suits will live for four months after which they will melt and the water returned to the Torne River. In that time, the hotel expects some 60,000 visitors.
The Legacy of the River was a rather different proposition to the others. ‘We used ethnology never seen in the hotels 21 year history. High-tech aesthetic and strong geometries are also a feature that set it apart,’ Douglas-Jones enthuses. ‘However, the hotel is famed for its diversity, and each year there is a plethora of different designs. It’s this variety and creative energy that attracts us as designers to the project.’
Rousseau and Douglas-Jones used ice and snow as their principle material. ‘In order to realise our concept and act as total counter point to the prevailing natural material we used a little know high-tech light source: electro-luminescent wire,’ notes Douglas-Jones. ‘This stuff uses organic phosphors so when charged it gives a very consistent light, perfect for this application.’
Crucially, the wire uses negligible energy, ideal for a suite that had to be lit for four months. Douglas-Jones continues: ‘We grappled with how this was going to work in the ice as EL is greatly affected by moisture – not great when your main material is water!’ The team came up with a solution to protect the wire and enable it to be embedded in the ice to give the straight lines they wanted.
The duo are now in the midst of editing the footage they shot at the hotel for a forthcoming pilot Extreme Design All Conditions, with part of the mini trailer currently screening on the Discovery’s internet channel.
Follow their blog at Extreme Design.
Douglas-Jones was recently involved with the 3x3x3 tower in Taiwan.
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