By realizing the Pykrete Dome project in January 2014, the world record for building the largest ice dome was set. The span of the dome was 30 meters, 5 meters more than the standing record at that time, which was held by T. Kokawa. This challenging project was realized by 50 volunteers from Holland and the people from the municipality of Juuka, Finland.


The shape of the ice structure is based on a  geodesic dome, because this shape will only cause very little tensile forces in structure. Ice has very low tensile strength, but with this shape very thin ice structures are still possible. Structural analyses of the dome indicated that the largest forces occur at the bottom and around the entrance of the dome. For those reasons pykrete is applied only in the lower part of the dome. In the upper part plain ice is sufficient.


The design of the Pykrete Dome is based on the designs of Tsutomu Kokawa which has been experimenting with ice dome structures since the 80's. The largest, world record, ice dome he made had a span of 25 meters. The Pykrete Dome project has set a new record with span of 30 meters and a height of 10 meters.



Pykrete is reinforced ice invented by Geoffrey Pyke during the second world war. In the Pykrete Dome project this reinforcement is created by using wood fibers. Research on the effect of different sized fibers has been done by Remy Jansen en Frank Houben.


Pykrete is already in use for ice roads, so heavy loads can be transported over lakes in colder areas, but it has never been used for building applications. The Pykrete Dome project was the first big project that used Pykrete on such big scale.


Pykrete can be three times stronger than plain ice, which makes it possible to construct larger and thinner ice shell structures. The use of Pykrete as a building material for the first time and the way it was used make the Pykrete Dome an unique project.



The dome is built by inflating a big balloon underneath a large reticulated net. This net is anchored into the ground, which will give the correct shape to the balloon when inflated. When the balloon is fully inflated thin layers of water and snow are sprayed on top of the balloon which will form a thin layer of ice. The Pykrete was used in the lower part of the dome by adding wooden sawdust to the water. When the wright thickness is achieved the balloon is taken out of the ice shell  and the ice dome is finished.


The video below gives a good impression of the construction of the 'Pykrete Dome' project.


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