This most elemental of materials seems a natural choice, as the Ice Globe is 130 miles inside the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. It is right next door to another frozen building, the Ice Hotel. Here, guests sleep in igloo-like rooms decorated with ice sculptures in temperatures that would make a freezer seem balmy. In the daytime, visitors can enjoy activities such as skiing, snowmobiling and reindeer sleighing. In the evening, there is little to do except sit in the Absolut Bar and drink vodka out of glasses – also made from ice. So when theatre director Rolf Degerlund suggested the idea of the Globe to Ice Hotel founder Yngve Bergqvist, he jumped at the idea: it would give guests something to do in the evenings and attract new customers.
Building the Ice Globe was fairly straightforward. Because the Ice Hotel has been going for 13 years, and melts back into the river each summer, the organisation, Icehotel AB, has become adept at building from snow and ice. "It's a fantastic material to work with," says Mark Szulgit, who works for Icehotel AB. "It's very quick to build with, and you can easily shape and carve it. It's also quite forgiving as a material; if you make a mistake you just add some more snow."
The bulk of the theatre is built from snow, using the kind of snow cannon found in ski resorts. Even though there is plenty of the real thing lying around, artificial snow is preferable as it is twice as dense, making it a better building material. Ice blocks are also used, and these are harvested from the River Torne in March each year when the ice is a metre deep, its maximum thickness. It is cut out in blocks 1 m deep and wide, and 2 m long. These are stored in a massive refrigerated warehouse until the following winter, when construction time comes round again. Icehotel AB also sells ice from the warehouse, commissions artists to create sculptures with it and offers an ice-building consultancy service.