About Us

We are a research group focusing on composite ice materials and ice construction
in Eindhoven University of Technology. In the past, we have already successfully
finished several big ice projects, which we have buildt the largest ice dome and the
tallest ice tower.

For contact, please find
Project Leader: Pronk Arno:A.D.C.Pronk@tue.nl
Project Manager: Yiling Zhou:pr.structuralice@gmail.com
or simply leave a message on Facebook or Instagram.


There has been a long tradition in making ice structures, but the development of technical improvements for making ice buildings is a new field with just a handful of researchers.

We are a research group focusing on composite ice materials and ice construction in Eindhoven University of Technology leading by Prof. Arno Pronk.

Using reinforced ice by adding natural fibers such as wood fibers, it is possible to build large thin shell structures.These fibers make the ice much stronger and create a reliable building material. This sustainable, fully recyclable building material can be a solution for temporary constructions in cold areas, events or even Mars missions.

Till now, We have already realized several remarkable ice projects such as Pykrete Dome, Sagrada Familia in Ice, Flamenco Ice Tower and KAWS: HOLIDAY.

Each winter, we are seeking new opportunities new challengings. Welcome to reach contact us if you are interested.

Our Office

Ice structures in the past

The part below will give a short summary of the most important ice projects/structures in the past. The oldest “ice” structures known are igloo’s made from snow blocks. They are shaped like a cate-noid to avoid tensile stresses. The gaps in between the blocks are filled with snow. The heating in the igloo will melt the inner surface of the igloo. Later this melting water will freeze again making a layer of ice. The layer of ice formed at the inside of the igloo will make it a continues structural shell and contributes to the strength of the igloo.

A Japanese variant of the igloo is the Japanese “Kamakura”. A ”Kamakura” is a Japanese traditional snow hut, which has been built since the beginning of the 20th century. The snow hut is formed by digging out snow from a small pile of natural wet snow. The Kamakura is usually constructed with uncompacted snow, resulting in small dimensions because of the low mechanical properties (Kokawa T. 2002).

kamakura snow dome

Based on the knowledge and experience with snow structures snow hotels have been developed for commercial exploration. Most ice hotels are constructed using a patented arched steel mould with a height up to 5 m and a span of 6 m. Multiple moulds are connected to create a long tunnel. At first natural snow was used to create the snow walls of the structure, but later the construction material was replaced by artificial snow. Special wet snow, called “Snice”, is sprayed on the mould using front loaders, snow canons, snow blowers and snow throwers.

Heinz Isler (1926-2009) used natural forms as a reference for his designs. Isler is mostly known for his thin shell structures, where he used the physical principles of nature as his starting point. He made ice structures by spraying water on fabrics or inflatables in winter at low temperatures. By applying multiple layers of water, a shell structure was formed with a thickness of only a few millimeters. (Chilton J. 2012)

In the north of Finland, Matti Orpana developed a method for creating igloo-shaped ice hotels with a span and height of 15 m. They were the biggest one-surface igloos made with an inflatable mould. The vertical section of the igloo is formed like a catenary. The inflatable is covered with ice or snow. In ice the wall thickness at the foundation is approximately 900 mm and in snow the walls are about 3000 mm thick.

In September 2004 Pronk et al. made an igloo for a business fair in Amsterdam. The igloo was made at an air temperature of 20°C. 2000 meter of ducts were wound around the inflatable mould to create a grid of ducts with a spacing of 5 cm. The ducts where connected to a cooling device filled with water-glycol with a temperature of -12° C. The ducts were sprayed from the outside with a fog of water after the forming of the ice shell at the outside the inflatable was removed and the ducts where sprayed on the inside of the igloo. (Pronk et al., 2005)

Many projects were realized by professors in cooperation with their students as part of their education in architecture and civil engineering. The projects below were realized in China, Canada and Finland over the last years. They have been analysed on the educational goals.