Arrival by Jonathan Green

And the Making of the Icehotel 29

The day of departure for Sweden has finally arrived. After a flight from London to Stockholm, and then Stockholm to Kiruna, we are driven to the IceHotel in Jukkasjärvi.

We see the building site for the first time, and take in the enormity of the project ahead of us.

In April 2018, our design was selected for the IceHotel 29. I am travelling with my 19 year old daughter Marnie, an art student, to Jukkasjärvi, where we will single-handedly create our vision out of ice and snow.


Our Art Suite by Jonathan Green

Day 1

We finally get to see our room. It’s a bespoke casting, with 1m thicker walls than normal to allow us to carve the elements out of the ceiling and walls.

This means a ton of snow removal before we can even start to find the forms. Its very physical work, made all the more harder by the unusually warm conditions of +4 degrees, which impacts heavily on the building project, as snow and ice begins to melt.

These are potentially disastrous conditions for the Hotel, so late in the season.

A normal sized room casting

A normal sized room casting

Our room

Our room

Day 2 by Jonathan Green

The start of our first full day of work, and temperatures reach a near disastrous +4 degrees C.

Although its more pleasant to work in, everything is starting to melt. The ‘Snice’ becomes wet and then re-freezes when the temperature drops, turning it more icy, and therefore harder to work with. It becomes rock hard, and starts to change colour to off-white.

This rise in temperature also stops any further building of the IceHotel structure, which puts a lot of pressure on the Building Team.

The mood within the team is definitely more sombre, but we all know the temperature will drop tomorrow, if the forecasts are correct.

For now, we’re marking out where the whale will be, and start to carve its outline. It’s incredibly hard physically, working over your head, and being so close to the subject that it’s impossible to see the form clearly.

We knew this part would be hard, but neither of us had quite foreseen just how demanding ceiling work would be. Digging out over your head, being showered with wet cold snow, and having to jump down from the tower every few minutes to see what you’d done. Quite exhausting.