Dutch university plans to build Gaudi’s famous church from ice and sawdust

Architecture International Other
Pykrete Church (Courtesy Eindhoven University of Technology)

University proposes to build a church from ice and sawdust. (Courtesy Eindhoven University of Technology)

The Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands has produced renderings of their newest venture: a scaled model of the Sagrada Família in Barcelona, built from the unlikely combination of ice and sawdust.

Pykrete Church (Courtesy Eindhoven University of Technology)

Project Leader Arno Pronk with a Piece of Pykrete (Courtesy Eindhoven University of Technology)

This peculiar material amalgam is known as “pykrete”—a very inexpensive and abundant material—was thought of by Geoffrey Pyke, and was first utilized in 1942 during World War II in Project Habakkuk. That project’s objective was to use pykrete to create aircraft carriers to combat German U-boats in the Mid-Atlantic.

This technique was tested in 2009 on an episode of the television show Mythbusters, and was recreated again in 2010 on the show Bang Goes The Theory. Both shows successfully recreated pykrete boats and confirmed the effectiveness and sturdiness of the building material.

Now, faculty members and students at the Eindhoven University of Technology are planning on creating the largest pykrete-based building in the world. Upon completion, the church would surpass the ice dome finished earlier this year by the same university (see a time lapse video it its construction below).

While the ice-and-sawdust church is modeled after the Sagrada Família, it’s forms are generalized to facilitate the construction method. Once the structure is complete, however, it will stand at a monumental 123 feet at its highest dome and will stretch some 122 feet long. Construction is slated to begin well into December in Northern Finland.

Pykrete Church (Courtesy Eindhoven University of Technology)

Pykrete Church (Courtesy Eindhoven University of Technology)

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