London art-architecture studio atmos has just opened Dreamscape, a new type of hotel room for a new type of Ice Hotel – the ‘365’ at ICEHOTEL Sweden, which will offer its guests icy escapes all year round.
Dreamscape presents an entirely new form of art suite, physically dramatising the mental journey into sleep and dreams.
A carpet of ice welcomes the visitor at the door, and whisks them up a dramatically curling ice stair (imprinted with an intricate unfurling pattern of radiating ‘grip’ grooves), widening to become a welcoming bed held aloft far above the floor.
Ice tentacles burst from the rear wall of the room to frame the bed, curling downwards as sculptural columns that bury into the snowy floor, or as pincers that carry the stair treads towards the door.
Snow tentacles rise like unleashed four-poster-bed columns, and melt sideways into ceiling and walls, diving like ceremonial worms around the ice stair, protecting the new views afforded by the elevated vantage point.
“We realised that the thrilling austerity of the room furnishings (there’s nothing in any room except for a bed) would allow us to focus on that great unspoken and unrevealed experience that we each share each night – the journey into our psyche.” explains atmos director Alex Haw.
“Our design visualises the drama of that nocturnal journey we all partake in, enwrapped in our neural pathways, journeying through magical spaces we’ve never before experienced. We wanted to use the materials at hand in an architectural way – spatially and structurally – to express that inner architecture that connects us all.”
The project pushes the use of snow and ice to new limits, with each stacked ice step spanning ever greater distances as the stair widens from the width of the door to the double bed above. The structural ice side beams are then themselves carved back as far as possible into thin, sinuous, organic columns that enable all the vast weight held aloft above to appear to float in mid air. Visitors are encouraged to side-step the stair and explore the intricacy of the icy columnar construction, and the drama of the wider room.
Each ice step was carved from vast slabs of 200-millimetre-thick ice that weighed up to 400kg. Each slab was initially sawn from larger blocks by 2 vast conveyor-belt chainsaws, and then grooved with the intricate geometry of its outline and radiating grip grooves by a CNC machine (an atmos trademark), which provided the guide for the final tread to be hand-carved by chainsaw – and glued with water.
The project is constructed entirely from water – from either freshly fallen snow, or fresh water from the local Torne River (which was still flowing just past the site until one week after Haw and his colleague Aditya Bhatt arrived to start building), harvested as ice building blocks once It freezes in winter, and archived in a giant local ice store for use the following winter.
“It was an exhilarating journey into the unknown” says Haw of the constructional process. “We learned a new tool, technique and process almost every day, and discovered some of the great mysteries and intricacies of this extraordinary material. As the only “ice-rookies” on the team, we were grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this incredible project; to the vast opportunity it offered to learn, exchange and absorb; and to the wider team of fantastic artists and support staff for all their help and encouragement. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of architecture as frozen music; here, we’ve literally been building a frozen architecture, which will slowly thaw and release its melting music – at a rate no one in this world yet knows.”