Department of Engineering / News / Interdisciplinary Cambridge team takes part in Harbin ice festival

Department of Engineering

Interdisciplinary Cambridge team takes part in Harbin ice festival

Interdisciplinary Cambridge team takes part in Harbin ice festival

The ice tower, designed by Professor Arno Pronk, awarded first prize in the competition

Cambridge Engineering and Architecture students travelled to icy Harbin (-25ºC) the week before Christmas to take part in the annual “Ice and Snow Construction Competition”.

Taking part in this annual competition gives our students the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams, with a completely new construction material, all in an extreme climate. They have to think on their feet and work collaboratively – it is great fun!

Dr John Orr

The competition, held at the Harbin Institute of Technology, in China, attracted student groups from USA, UK, Netherlands, China, and Finland.

Our students joined a team of craftspeople and engineers from TU Eindhoven and Summa College to build two impressive ice structures over a period of 5 days.

An ice tower, designed by Professor Arno Pronk at TU Eindhoven, was awarded first prize in the competition. At 14 metres tall, it is a prototype for a 40m tall tower planned for construction in 2022.

The second project was also a proof of concept, using an inflatable cube to create a climate-controlled chamber inside which ice structures could be built, in anticipation of a possible construction project in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The design called for polyhedron of ice suspended inside the cube, in recognition of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. The cube offered a rather challenging construction environment, and the polyhedron was unfortunately not quite completed in time. The exercise allowed the team to learn how to improve the cube method for the next attempt!

Student Maya Suvarna said “The project was a unique experience to learn to make and build with a new material – pykrete. I also valued working alongside and in collaboration with students from universities worldwide – in particular the students of TU Eindhoven and Summa College!”

Interdisciplinary Cambridge team at the Harbin ice festival 2019

Student Yeliz Abdurahman said “Building with ice was surreal. Facing all the challenges that such an unusual construction material comes with meant that we had to think on our feet and be innovative all the time”

Dr John Orr said “Taking part in this annual competition gives our students the opportunity to work in interdisciplinary teams, with a completely new construction material, all in an extreme climate. They have to think on their feet and work collaboratively – it is great fun!”

The competition is the result of an ongoing collaboration between IASS Working Group 21 and Harbin Institute of Technology which looks to expand research and teaching in innovative ice structures. The group is chaired by Professor Arno Pronk from TU Eindhoven and Dr Orr.

More images from the event can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/185969471@N04/

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