Legacy of the River Suite by Ian Douglas-Jones and Ben Rousseau 04.01.11

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image: Ian Douglas-Jones

Neon blue electroluminescent wire lights glow behind cracked ice in the Legacy of the River suite at the ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. Created by architect Ian Douglas-Jones and designer Ben Rousseau, the suite draws its inspiration from the film Tron: Legacy and is one of 60 rooms available to hotel guests.

"Creating strong geometric forms out of organic material was a challenge, but our design intention was to counter the notion of the organic with strong geometry and high-tech lighting, yet exploit the natural material qualities, the beautiful cracks and irregularities that can be found in the ice," explains Douglas-Jones.

The suite's arterial network of lighting is set into thin channels carved across the walls of the ice. It was a matter of improvisation to cement these lights in place using snis, a mix of snow and ice that freezes over to create a smooth surface. Locked beneath all of this rests frozen black felt, completing the impression of some vast, alien motherboard that courses through the room – a sci-fi outpost lost to the elements.

Conceived following Douglas-Jones and Rousseau's collaboration at the London Design Festival, 2009, Legacy of the River was selected as one of the ICEHOTEL's 20 Art Suites for 2010/2011. Rousseau was lucky to have had previous experience – he built the Operation Blade suite for the hotel's 2007 incarnation.

"We won the commission and subsequently altered the design after a sneak preview of Tron: Legacy," elaborates Douglas-Jones. "The film inspired us both, having been aware of its first incarnation and the high-tech futurism that inspires our everyday work."

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image: Ian Douglas-Jones

The ICEHOTEL began life 21 years ago as a single igloo housing an art exhibition – it now operates on a much larger scale. Rebuilt each year by artists selected from a variety of backgrounds, the hotel is created by freezing snow over steel frames, frames that are later removed to leave a freestanding ice building. Guests are invited to keep out the sub-zero temperatures by using thick sleeping bags and heavy reindeer pelts. But Legacy of the River is no simple one-off. The suite forms part of a wider campaign by Douglas-Jones and Rousseau for the launch of a line of illuminated furniture in the new year. In spite of this, it is difficult to escape the feeling that Douglas-Jones will miss the ice of Jukkasjärvi. "You quickly realise that nothing is quite as beautiful as the ice itself. We hand-picked the location and orientation of each and every piece."

 

Words

Oli Stratford

quotes story

Creating strong geometric forms out of organic material was a challenge, but our design intention was to counter the notion of the organic with strong geometry and high-tech lighting, yet exploit the natural material qualities, the beautiful cracks and irregularities that can be found in the ice

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