Temporary ice hotels materialize each winter in frigid northern towns from Russia to Canada. As temperatures rise in the spring the structures melt back into the earth. Now Dubai is poised to get its first year-round ice lodge, Blue Crystal. And considering the amount of energy needed to keep a man made iceberg under 32 degrees in scorching summers on the Persian Gulf, it’s almost amusing to hear Blue Crystal touted as sustainable.
A growing trend in Dubai architecture seems to be the creation of not only the utmost in luxury, but of the impossible, improbable, and downright outrageous. Dubai‘s arid desert climate doesn’t easily lend it to ice sculptures–especially not ones with 6 stories of luxury entertainment including an underwater lounge and ballroom. The German design duo Frank and Sven Sauer claim that Blue Crystal will harness the world’s natural energy sources, keeping it self-sufficient. It will supposedly be powered by solar cells embedded in the icy facade and employ an ‘energy recycling system.’
So far it isn’t clear how much energy the structure will be able to produce and how that will be distributed amongst lounges, cafes and the most massive task of keep the ice frozen. Even if it does manage to stay off the grid I’m not convinced that a refrigerated iceberg in the middle of the desert counts as sustainable architecture.