Ice Testing Shelter // Bartlett, UCL // September - December 2012

The aim of my shelter was to test the structural possibilities that could be achieved when using ice as a medium to reinforce materials with no structural properties. I designed an aluminum frame which acted as an armature within which a dome of stretchy fabric could be pulled out and extended to form a habitable space. This space could be reconfigured from within using a series of strings and pulleys. The aluminum frame incorporated a spraying system, also controllable from within the shelter, which could moisten the stretched fabric. This would then freeze overnight and act as a wind break in its hardened state.

 

The strength of the frozen fabric was tested by releasing each point from which it had been stretched. The outcome of testing the material was successful, and the stretched fabric when frozen held its from perfectly. I then charted the melting of the shelter when the sun rose, observing the patterns of movement as the fabric slowly crumbled and cracked as it lost its frozen structural properties.

As well as a research project, this shelter became my home for four days while travelling round south Iceland. I slept inside it, and packed it up each day into one small triangular bag for easy transportation and easy assembly.

 

The aluminium frame was also so rigid but light once assembled that the whole thing could easily be picked up and moved.