Malcolm Clulow tells Emily Wright how he found himself filling a building with 7000 tonnes of snow

Tell me about your latest job, the Ski Dubai project.

Ski Dubai is the first snow resort in that region and it's huge. You can't see the bottom of the runs from the top. Skiers don't just have to go straight down, either; they can make right and left hand turns. The building holds 7000 tonnes of snow, is 400 m long, 20 stories tall and, in some places, 80 m wide - it's as near to the real thing as you can get. We were in charge of the building design, the cooling system, the snow making, the mechanics and the interior design.

What was the greatest challenge you faced during the design and build?

Putting 2000 members of the public into a huge freezer at any one time. We had to really think through health and safety features. There had to be emergency exits at the top and on the way down, not just at the bottom. This is a space built on a steep, sloping, slippery floor. If a problem occurs at the bottom of the run, people need to be able to stop, remove their skis, walk to an exit and get down the stairs comfortably in ski boots.

How would you describe snow consultancy?

We design the buildings and slope geometry, we provide insulation, ski lifts and the theming requirements of the snow centre, including snow making. We monitor construction and witness commissioning. It's an all-round job.

How did you become a snow consultant?

I was fat when I was young and was bullied so badly at school that I had to leave. At 15, I had no qualifications to my name so my mother got me an apprenticeship in Birmingham training to be a refrigeration engineer. Six years on, I finished my apprenticeship and continued down that path, progressing into consulting. For 16 years I worked for the food industry on low temperature spaces. I met someone in 1989 who owned a dry ski slope and wanted to turn it into a snow ski slope.

I gave it a go and I've now built 11 around the world.

What sorts of qualifications and experience do snow consultants need?

In terms of qualifications, there is not much that we look for. Who is going to have had the opportunity to learn about the physics of snow making? We look for people who will be able to multitask - in this job, one minute you are doing calculations and the next you are brainstorming design ideas. But a bit of background experience is useful in drawing work, engineering or electronics. A basic skill base means that when new staff arrive here they are not too parasitic. But it's very much an on-the-job learning curve.

Malcolm Clulow

Age 60
Employment history Joined Frigidaire as a refrigeration engineering apprentice in 1960. Was an industrial refrigeration contractor for 20 years before becoming a refrigeration consulting engineer for Tosco Stores. Has been managing director of Acer Snowmec since 1988
Lives With his wife in Kidderminster, Worcestershire
Hobbies Eating with friends, cinema, swimming, gardening, watching Formula One