Design of a Snow Room
General and technical report
TechnoAlpin is the market leader for technical snow making, delivering snow making equipment to all major ski resorts worldwide as well as all the leading snow sport events like Olympics, FIS ski races, ski-, snowboard- and other world cups.
Another important segment is the indoor snow business, which includes not only indoor ski resorts, but also snow rooms for the spa & hospitality industry as well as the retail industry.
SNOW ROOM: PRODUCT AND APPLICATIONS
A snow room has typically a size of 5 to 20 sqm, with a height of about 2.30 meters. The room is cooled to -10°C and is snowed with real snow, made from just water and air, thus simulating real winter conditions. The room is usually adapted to the local conditions, different shapes are possible. A glass door and window are usually installed.
A snow room can mostly be found in hotels, cruise ships, day spas, fitness clubs and public thermal baths. In this segment, the snow room is mainly used for “contrast bathing”, in combination with a hot sauna. This way, the Finnish tradition of interchanging dry heat with a cool down in soft snow can be practiced all over the world, 365 days a year.
Another important application can be found in retail stores, where a snow room offers the possibility for indoor winter experience: winter gear can be tested in real winter conditions and with powder snow.
HOW SNOW IS MADE
Snow is made during the night: a snow nozzle sprays fine water mist into the room. Due to the low temperature, water particles freeze immediately and settle as snowflakes all over the room, on walls, floor and all objects. In the morning, a fresh layer of snow is ready for visitors. Snow accumulates over time, so once a week the room is defrosted completely. By heating the room up to +40°C, snow is melting quickly, and the room can be cleaned if necessary. Within a couple of hours, the room can be cooled and snowed again.
The challenging part of a snow room are the materials, because the room has to be perfectly insulated and equipped with materials resistant to water, snow and a temperature ranging from -20°C up to +40°C (because during defrost, the room is heated). The cabin itself is made of highly insulating wall panels and triple glass window and door. For the interior decoration, materials that were used in the past are artificial rock, glass and metal. The design options were quite limited with this choice of materials.
TechnoAlpin was looking for a new, modern and sophisticated interior design for the snow room. Design and materials should have the potential to become an industry standard for the snow room, ensuring a high level not only in design but also in product safety and longevity.
- Development of attractive design
- Identify new suitable materials
- resistant to 100% humidity, snow and temperature changes from -15°C up to +30°C
- modular concept: easy to adapt to different locations and room sizes
- quick installation
- Maximize space for snow deposits, not only on the floor, but also on the walls, in order to make sure that visitors will enjoy an immersive experience
- Ergonomic seating
- Safety for visitors, anti-slip surfaces
- Compatibility and esthetic integration of technical components like snow nozzle and air intake
THE DESIGN PROCESS: A NEW SNOW ROOM DESIGNED BY SØHETTA
The concept idea is inspired by the changes that happen in nature; it is informed by the metamorphoses of landscapes. Snow transforms hard and edgy rocks into a soft landscape. The artificial indoor spatial experiences are based on abstracted forms of natural landscapes.
“The more exiting the host, the more exiting the snow: the basic shapes must have a clear three-dimensional structure.”
Abstracted landscape patterns are transformed into a three-dimensional system. The snow changes this sculpted landscape structure into soft forms. The form of the indoors landscapes also follows the human body, it invites users to interact with the snow and allows for an “immersive snow experience”.
The snow room is characterized by a three-dimensional wall, providing enough space to move freely and offering also seating. The concept can be adapted to different room dimensions.
A modular concept allows to standardize the components, thus lowering production cost. Rooms can be composed of 15 modules:
The basic material is EPS (Expanded polystyrene), which can be shaped easily and is very light. It is coated with a layer of Polyurea, which can be sprayed onto the geometric shapes without rounding edges and angles too much. The rough texture allows snowflakes to attach well all over the surface. A final layer of an acrylic lacquer creates a water-resistant surface.
A choice of various colors is possible.
Wood can be used as an alternative, but in some countries, the use of wood wet areas is not allowed.
Patrick Lüth, Maria Neururer, Thomas Tait, Felix Perasso, Andreas Glatzl
TechnoAlpin / Christian Vorhofer
For 30 years, Snøhetta has designed some of the world’s most notable public and cultural projects. Snøhetta kick-started its career in 1989 with the competition-winning entry for the new library of Alexandria, Egypt. This was later followed by the commission for the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo, and the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion at the World Trade Center in New York City, among many others. Since its inception, the practice has maintained its original trans-disciplinary approach, integrating architectural, landscape, interior, graphic design and product design its projects.
Operating in 7 cities in 6 countries, including Oslo, New York, San Francisco, Innsbruck, Paris, Hong Kong and Adelaide, the practice currently employs more than 250 staff members of 30 different nations.