TU/e students complete world’s biggest ice dome

Students of the Built Environment department at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have built the world’s biggest ice dome, with a diameter of 30 meters and a height of 10 meters, in Juuka, Finland. The team completed the dome on Friday evening by deflating the supporting air balloon. On Saturday the ice dome was officially opened, setting a new world record. 

It took six days for the Dutch team of 15 Built Environment students to build the ice dome. The project was led by Arno Pronk together with students Jorrit Hijl and Roel Pluijmen. The dome was built using Pykrete: ice reinforced with sawdust, which is a quick-to-use, low-cost building material for temporary structures like ice hotels and storage halls. The biggest ice dome up to now, with a diameter of 25 meters, was built in Japan in 2001. 

Warm weather
The team were faced by a number of setbacks – for example, the warmest weather in 146 years meant big delays before the building work could be started. And at first there wasn’t enough snow, which was needed to build the supporting layers for the done. But later the temperature fell to a more normal level of –13°C, so with a lot of hard work the dome was still finished on time.

The dome was officially opened at 14:00 hours local time on Saturday 18 January. The mayor was then symbolically presented with the key to the giant igloo, followed by a program of festivities.

The builders of the ice dome will be honored at a reception on Tuesday 28 January in the Built Environment department at TU/e. Speakers will include the dean of the department prof.ir. Elphi Nelissen and TU/e Rector Magnificus Hans van Duijn.