Smout Allen

Karolina Kielb Y4

Re(g)Rhône Glacier. The project is located on the Rhône Glacier in the Swiss Canton of Valais. During the 1800s, the Rhône Glacier was a popular tourist attraction. As the glacier has retreated, the interest in the site has declined and the hotel has become abandoned. Since the 1800s the glacier has retreated by almost a mile and now tourists are rushing to visit the glacier before it completely vanishes. 

Swiss glaciers have been melting at an unprecedented rate, which predicts their complete disappearance within the next 100 years. Due to this, there are various methods of preserving them and slowing the melting process. Areas of the Rhône are currently covered in white fleece blankets which reflect the sun rays and reduce the melting by 70%. 

In the Himalayan village of Ladakh, the residents rely on glacial streams for drinking water. As the Himalayan glaciers melt at the fastest rate, Sonam Wangchuk has engineered an Ice Stupa—an artificial glacier that uses melting water from existing glaciers and repurposes it into 50 meter cone shaped ice sculptures, holding up to 2 million litres of water each. 

Re(g)Rhône Glacier, sited at the Rhône Glacier, takes precedent from those methods of preservation in order to restore a fragment of the Rhône Glacier. It is positioned between three different environmental conditions the glacier, the lake and the moraine which are in constant flux. The building proposes to use the melting water in order to grow ice on a supporting grid structure during the cold winter months. 

The water is sprayed onto the structure which features avalanche net blankets that support the new ice growth and allow it to accumulate, eventually providing an opportunity to increase in size and restore the lost glacial landscape.

Terra Incognita 2019