MEB Design Ltd is an architectural practice with offices in London, Oxford and Kent



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    BLOG: Building with water, a chainsaw, a hairdryer, and a domestic iron

    Posted on 31st May 2017

    As respite from the summer heat Des Hill from our London office has written a blog about his winter trip to Northern Japan last year:

    “At first glimpse these disparate objects (water, iron, chainsaw, and hair dryer) might be seen to have nothing to do with each other; convert the water to ice however, and all becomes clearer.

    In a visit to the ice and snow festivals last year in Northern Japan, I was particularly struck by the ice sculpture competitions in several towns.  The sculptors are given a fixed number of blocks of ice, and are to create a sculpture for judging.  Time was short; much of the work took place overnight, typically in snowy, windy conditions and at -10°C.  Much credit to their dedication.

    The first task is to pile the blocks into an approximation of the design, the iron is used to melt the surface, which immediately refreezes, when another block is placed on top, thus giving a homogeneous structure.  The chainsaw gives overall shape to the piles, working to a design.  Smaller power tools and hand tools then being used to give the detail and texture.  As it takes shape, protuberances are ‘glued’ to the form (again using the iron), to give detail and interest.

    And then the hair dryer can be used (but very gently for obvious reasons) to give an almost glass like finish to the whole.  The finished effects are stunning, especially come the morning and the sunlight – when it then “warms” up to -5°C –  and a credit to the creativity and commitment of those involved.”

    See below for a collection of photos from the festival.


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