Our story

Juuka, FI

Building with ice

Ice Association

Building with ice is one of the most environmental-friendly ways to make a building. There is a long tradition in making igloos, but the technical improvements for making ice buildings is a new field with just a handful of researchers. The Structural Ice Association in cooperation with the municipality of Juuka and more than 15 international Universities and institutes are the organizers of the ice events.


Juuka is a municipality of North Karelia, a province in eastern Finland. The ice structure will be built on private property owned by Tulikivi, the world’s largest manufacturer of heat-retaining fireplaces. We’re supported by a large number of local companies, volunteers and associations in Juuka, and of course by the municipality itself!

Building with ice

Ice is a well-known material, but as a building material it’s quite uncommon, even after the recently successfully realized ice-domes. After building world’s largest (Pykrete Dome) and the highest (Sagrada Familia in Ice) ice-domes the goal of this new ice-project is again to investigate how far we can go with ice as a building material. The design of our ice-bridge is based on a sketch by Leonardo Da Vinci, made in 1502. The bridge will be a scale model of the original drawing and will have a span of 35 meters, which will be world’s longest span in ice ever realized.

Da vinci in ice

For the Bridge in Ice we’ve found our inspiration in a well-known genius. Leonardo da Vinci designed a stone bridge in 1502 for the sultan of Istanbul with a span of 240 meters, which was never built. At that time people thought such a big span couldn’t be realized. The design turned out to be so interesting that there has been done a lot of research on the ‘Galata Bridge’. Even some full-scale models were constructed. In 2001 a pedestrian bridge in wood, based on Leonardo’s design, has been built in Norway, as well as some small ice bridges (www.leonardobridgeproject.org). In the winter of 2016 a scale model of this bridge with a span of 35 meters will be created in ice in the town of Juuka, Finland. It will be the biggest single-span structure in ice ever realized.


The Ice-projects started at Eindhoven University of Technology we’re always led by students, under supervision of Arno Pronk. This year Roel and Thijs will be the new foreman for the ice projects next winter, this project will be the main objective of their master thesis. Roel Koekkoek and Thijs van de Nieuwenhof are master students Built Environment at the Eindhoven University of Technology. In September 2014 they contributed together with 10 other students to the core team realizing the Sagrada Familia in Ice. Roel was responsible particularly for the design of the entrance. By hanging wide sheets to the towers and freezing them, a thin ice structure should appear. The experiments with freezing sheets and cloths were promising but unfortunate not realized in the final project. Thijs was involved with the design and construction of the inflatable molds and their rope structures. Both items gained new insights for new research and projects.

Contructing with Ice

To achieve such a huge structure we have to reinforce the ice. Mixing cellulose fibers with water will result in an ice-composite, which will be 3 times stronger than plain ice, and even 20 times more ductile. Along the use of reinforced ice, the research on the use of textiles and ropes in ice-structures will also be continued.

Besides reinforced ice we use two more important techniques for constructing the Ice-structures. After mixing the fibers with water we pump the mixture through long tubes. By hand we spray layers of ice, just a couple of millimeters every time.  We spray on big inflatable molds. These molds are positioned and inflated, secured to have a continuous air-pressure for as little deformation as possible. After the big balloons are totally covered with ice, and the structure has enough strength to stand on its own, we deflate the balloon and remove them. The result will be the largest single-span structure in ice ever realized.

Projects on ice

The Snow Track

The bridge will be part of an Snow Track that leads along a huge quarry. This quarry of the Tulikivi Stove Factory will be the perfect setting for some experimental ice-projects. We’re going to create a 70 meters high frozen waterfall, fully enlightened. Following the Snow Track you can experience the ice sculptures created by Rinus Roelofs, a real Da Vinci fan. In the end the Ice Track bring you to the Bridge in Ice and the Candela Pavilion.

Candela Pavilion

The Snow Track will go around the Juuka Stone Center (museum) where a model will be shown of a thin shell structure in ice. The thin shell is based on the 1958 Restaurant Los Manantiales by Felix Candela in Mexico. This Pavilion will be mainly constructed by students of Ghent University, led by graduating student Bram Ronsse and supervisor Jan Belis. The Candela Pavilion has a perfect shape to create with an inflatable mold.