3. February 2020 | Magazine:

Picture of the Month: Shapes of Snow From the Institute of Architecture-Related Art

Will or won’t it come this winter? The snow. Things are looking bad for our region right now. Reason enough to choose a photo from a snow-sure area as the picture of the month February.

Shapes of Snow: “A walk through the wilderness”. Picture Credits: Aleigh Smith

In Vinje, a municipality in southern Norway, the scenery is covered with freshly fallen snow crystals in February. Perfect weather for skiing, sledding, snowball fights – and sculpting. This is why every year many people make a pilgrimage to Telemark for the “Vinje Snoforming Festival”. Students at the Institute of Architecture-Related Art at the TU Braunschweig have been shaping snow sculptures in this international and interdisciplinary exchange project for eight years in a row under the guidance of the artist Ilka Raupach.

Almost like a snow cave: “NIX” is the name of the sculpture created at Vinje Snoforming 2019. Picture credits: Ilka Raupach/TU Braunschweig

Stamping snow

“A walk through the wilderness” is the name of the snow sculpture by Nils Aschemann, Isabel Dohle, Leo Goldenbaum, Nadine Grabiger, Johanna Hamel, Daniel Ilunga Matthiesen, Anna-Lisa Lignow, Jan Schellhorn, Aleigh Smith and Xingyu Zhu. Arranged around two concentric circles, each carefully crafted piece represents a state of wilderness: fear, refuge, expanse, liberation and tranquility.

In Braunschweig, the architecture students designed their models on a scale of 1:30. On site, in Vinje, they decided where to place the sculptures – in keeping with their surroundings and facing the sun. Before the sculptural work could begin, the students had to construct three-metre high cubes using plywood boarding, which they filled with snow. The Braunschweig students moved 20 tons per cube – regardless of the weather conditions. They stamped the snow in the mould until it solidified. Then they could remove the wooden casing and let the raw blocks freeze overnight.

A giant snow globe with many possibilities: “Perspective” was created in Vinje in 2018. Picture credits: Simon Fischer/TU Braunschweig

With shovels and saws

Only then did the actual sculpting begin: first with shovels, then with saws and grinding tools to refine the shape. For one week they worked on their sculptures. Works that disappear when the snow melts. “This way, the snowy landscape becomes a laboratory for us. Walk-in sculptures and temporary architecture in the context of the landscape are created,” says Ilka Raupach. “Working with snow as a material offered the students a rare opportunity, as it is not a material typically used in architectural design. This unique experience will certainly influence their work as architects”.