This is a project regarding the weather.
It is this time of the year, the long waited first snow of 2013-14 winter, but there’s still no sign of snowing over here in Beijing. The memory of the past snowy winters has begun to fade. Through this project, xian architects want to provide the people in the snow-less winter with a well know yet unfamiliar experience, to rediscover the pleasure of perception towards the winter.
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This project was set at a valley in Beijing’s suburb. On “Minor Cold” (xiǎohán) day (the 23rd changes of Chinese Solar Terms), spring water flows into the pool and freezes to ice, the purity of ice is on its highest; its thickness can reach 440mm at times. We chose the most crystal clear ice and cut it into a triangular cylinder prism. The prism has a height of 2800 mm with the base of an equilateral triangle with side length of 440 mm.
As you can imagine, we built a prism that is 20 times larger than those we used in Physic lesson. Ice Prism’s purity and transparency has reached the level of quartz’s optical property, thus it makes dispersion, total internal reflection and refraction possible. However, ice prism has an unprecedented larger scale, a scale that is close to architecture.
On “Third Nine” (sānjiǔ) day (the coldest day of the year on Chinese Solar Terms), that is the third nine-days periods after winter solstice, Ice Prism was placed on a huge rock in the valley, when sky is clear with no clouds, at noon 12:00-12:10, sun ray passes through the gap between mountains to the ice prism at a specific angle, it projects a long band of rainbow in the valley, and perfectly sits on the shadow of the mountain, thus makes it even more colorful.
Elements to capture this moment: Cold winter, Clear Sky, Specific Time, Shadow from the mountains. It reflects a sensitive relationship between people, weather and time.
Because of ice prism’s total internal reflection and refraction, whenever man changes its viewing position or variation of sunbeams’ angle of incidence, ice prism may disappear, may shine, may split out colors, may become dark… and keep on reflecting, refracting the surrounding environment.
If we take ice prism’s scale as architecture’s scale, we think its relationship with the surrounding environment is a new one.