|January 21, 2003
The Audi Ice Lounge in St. Moritz
The heart of Alpine Skiing swells for two weeks in St. Moritz during the2003 World Championships between 1st and 16th February. During the World Championships, at the hub of St. Moritz village on the Plazza de Ceremonia, the centre of attention will be the "Audi Ice Lounge": a circular construction, 22 metres in diameter and almost 5 metres high, with walls, interior and décor fashioned from ice, and bridged by a cool, gleaming steel roof. The lounge is illuminated in a blue-turquoise tone from floodlights recessed in the ice. The combination of ice, steel and light turn the "Audi Ice Lounge", designed by Christian Funk, proprietor of the "Funk Ice Carving" company, into a uniquely dynamic work of art without any peers from the world of modern architecture. The grand opening of the "Audi Ice Lounge" is on the first day of the World Championships, Saturday 1st February 2003, at 1500. The Lounge is open to all visitors of St. Moritz for the duration of the World Championships.
In total, approximately 180 tonnes of clear and smoked ice are used for the "Audi Ice Lounge": The drinks are served not figuratively but literally "on the rocks". At the beginning of November last year, the ice was frozen and then transported in twelve trucks to Switzerland. In St. Moritz a twenty-five-man team assemble the "Audi Ice Lounge" block by block - 1.850 ashlars, each weighing one hundred kilograms. Every ice brick was cut exactly to size in advance, each individual block planned in a specific position. The assembly follows, without a yardstick and exactly according to the architect's plan. The "Audi Ice Lounge" resembles a giant jigsaw puzzle, prepared in even more detail than the construction of a prefab house.
Ice as raw material poses unusual problems for the architects and designers. The ice blocks are assembled, and then doused with water so that they freeze together. Nothing can be permanently mounted in the ice with screws or fixed using any other common method: So, the roof has to be tensioned to the ice walls with 112 steel ropes. As far as safety is concerned, when compared to the building of a normal house, no short cuts are taken. Even temperatures above zero during the 14-day World Championships will not endanger the static safety: The exterior walls will only thaw a miniscule amount.