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Abisko, Sweden

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), School of Architecture

Master Thesis, Year 5 : Spring 2015

Supervisor : Ulrika Karlsson & Einar Rodhe 

Jury : Charles Waldheim, Marcelyn Gow, Manuelle Gautrand




During the last Ice Age when the ice covered most of northern Europe, Sweden was completely under a kilometer of thick ice and snow which melted away and then water covered the land. This helped to shape the landscape as we know it now. The impact that the ice made in the land is apparent in many areas in how the landscape is shaped, especially in the region of mass (mountains). An example of this is Lapporten in Abisko with its U-shaped valley that derived from when the ice retreated and moved and was pressed in between the mountains.


I used ice and snow to form a research building for this subject, materials that are relevant to the eco tourism of Abisko and why students come to this town to study. 

The materiality and process in the research building relate to the geology it stands in and by the ice that shape it. Research by the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat on polar ice caps, snow depth, glaciers, and vegetation has been going on since 1903 when the first research station was built. The research station had a typical saddle roof house of wood and had gravel and soil pressed up on the outer walls to the roof level.


I focused on the material properties in terms of transitional aspects of the properties during the process of casting. The method I used centers and capitalizes the transitional aspects of material properties as a way of designing. I then studied the material process that happens when two materials that have opposite characteristics in their texture, transforms in semi-controlled conditions. The first material used is a solid property at the beginning of the casting and during the process it transcends to become liquid and evanesce from the cast. The second material used is in a liquid form at the beginning. During the solidification process, it gets shaped after the semi-solid material and the two materials are exchanging properties; they are going from liquid to solid and solid to liquid.

“It produced what we found to be a magnificent result between architecture and artistry with a great maturity and poetry in its documentation.” 

- Charles Waldheim


The project deals with the tension between the control of the form/mold and the noisy and unpredictable mix of the two meeting materials. The capacities of this material were extended by the introduction of the precision of the change of properties in the material. Aesthetic, thermal and structural capacities are mined from the interplay between the randomness of liquid to solid, solid to liquid and the accuracy of the mold.


This dynamic and volatile method that negotiates between high articulation of the material behavior and the inconsistent manipulation of liquid to solid, solid to liquid, that creates a new texture/space analog. The heterogeneous mixture of the two materials during the design process began with the introduction of specific aspects of performance, aesthetics and material behavior on the volume formation studies. The method manipulated the surface to a certain extent, through control of the plaster mix, time, and the ice & snow volume. The project examines the involvement of the uncertainty in the design process to result in an integrated and resilient material that emerges from local conditions and possesses the ability to create global patterns and emerging forms. 


The program is linked to the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and the Swedish Tourist Association (STF) in Abisko. I am proposing to build a research station with a direct focus on eco tourism and students. It is a building that will focus on showing the research that is going on at the Abisko Research Station for the eco tourism and for students visiting to collaborate with the Abisko Scientific Research Station or for their own research studies. The building will also offer overnight housing accomodations for the visiting students. 


The courtyard cut out is for opening up the building for the landscape and making a microenvironment.Vassijaure (Polar Research Secretariat) old Gable building cut out will be used to display research.Rupture/Rivers that opens and divide the different parts of the building to the mountains.It was a strategy for me to apply my research findings on the building.

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