The Ice Maze

Sapporo, Japan

The open design competition brief called for a town landmark.

Hokkaido Square, Sapporo, Japan is already a landmark space within the city.  Each year a festival is held in the square to celebrate its transformation into a fantastical winter wonderland created from snow and ice.  We wanted to create a new addition to this snowy landscape, a space which evolves over time, growing its own icy construction using the simple natural process of freezing water, in readiness for the ice festival each winter.

We worked with Dr. Chris Williams and his colleagues from Bath University to explore the possibility of predicting and modelling ice formation.

Our concept – The Ice Maze – was a series of folded sculptural glass planes set out on an equal grid. During the humid summer months these folded forms are sprayed with jets of water and people can walk freely between them.

As the seasons change and the temperature drops the jets of water start to freeze and ice builds up against the faces of the glass panes creating translucent enclosures that eventually fuse into an icy maze.