[Image source: Scripps On Ice]

For any of us future architects and designers, a snow day as a kid meant one thing: a limitless supply of free building material. Our analyses of Couch Cushion Architecture explored the possibilities within adaptive reuse with a fascinating range of results. The analyses of Cardboard Forts brought to light the numerous design structures possible, framed within the ideologies of cradle-to-cradle.  This latest installment  of Snow Forts showcases the imaginative creations with a rapidly renewable, locally procured resource. Below is an analysis of what the cool kids are up to these days.

[Image source: Brothers Forever]

01. While the integration of 1980’s office park curtain-wall technology, the French Gothic style, a bridge inspired by the Great Wall of China, and a built-in slide is a feat in and of itself, the composition comes off as McMansion Americana. The balance of indoor/outdoor space is worthy of praise, however, and we appreciate the visual “framing” at the rooftop deck. Grade: C, ReGrade: B

01 Addendum.
The jurors at the BUILD World Headquarters were recently invited to re-evaluate the entry above with emphasis on the “creative experimentation” and the structure’s playfulness of “distinct styles”. While we caution against the juxtaposition of Greek pillars and Gothic buttressing (all with a nod to the Roman Coliseum), we value the design dialogue. A cosmetic read of this structure may suggest McMansion Americana, and the author challenged team BUILD to follow a deeper narrative – one of Dr. Seuss inspired whimsy. There may never be an end to the deliberation among the jury on this particular project, however it was unanimously agreed upon that the ice slide alone sets this work apart from its competitors. Our reassessment resulted in a recalculation of the grade and, with bonus points awarded to the gravity operated transportation system (aka the slide), we have elevated this project to a B.
Note to readers: this example of blatant grade inflation was performed entirely sober.

[Image source: Christine Purcell]

02. The project falls victim to the classic conundrum of minimalism gone too far. While there’s a clear nod to the work of John Pawson, the regimented design too harshly penalizes the comfort of the inhabitants. Grade: D+

[Image source: McCullough Web]

03. A clean geometry and clear program are, unfortunately, sullied by a heavy medieval influence in this project. While it may stand that the turret’s crenelations provide refuge from combative attack, the more looming threat is most likely an attack on taste — by those modernism purists down the block. Grade: B-

[Image source: jehingr]

04. We applaud the inclusion of the lightweight, thin-shell snow disc sled saucers. However, the applications fails to develop their true structural potential. While the weathering capabilities of the single-ply cardboard roofing membrane are highly problematic, the project achieves high style points for use of Renzo Piano’s signature shade of orange. Grade: B

[Image source: Looky]

05. Extending the timeless dialogue between building and landscape, this project cultivates a thesis of tree as spirit and building as protector. Special commendation is given to the lighting design, a rare feature among snow fort architectures. Grade B+

[Image source: Volunteer Princess]

06. Reaching back to the ancient methods of Stonehenge slab construction, this work rejects the role of column and accentuates the attributes of horizontal slab. Vertical elements are pushed outside the structural envelope in a tongue-n-cheek parody of uselessness. While a clear reaction to techtonic architecture is realized in the form, it’s interior functions are unclear. Grade: B

[Image source: The Nuzzes]

07. A refreshing example of utilitarian geometry, the form is everything it needs to be and nothing more. The roof loads are resolved clearly and rationally to the fort’s massive walls and foundation. Using Passive House technology, the thickened walls provide generous insulation value while openings at the envelope allow greater amounts of heat to be retained. Grade: A

[Image source: Brett Crawford Photo]

08. Simply burrowing into landscape is less an achievement of architecture and more an act of squatting. The most fundamental elements of architecture are all but absent in this project, and while the squatter in question may seem content, the absence of wall makes not a door. Grade: F

[Image source: jmsalsich]

09. The geometrical influences of UN Studio are unmistakably employed in this design-forward igloo of the 21st century. Although the structure is both rational and elegant, the forms incongruent relationship to the adjacent landscaping is mildly disappointing. The project substitutes its contextual discord with a clear indication of national allegiance. Grade: A+

[Image source: The Casual Perfectionist]

10. Paralyzed by an enormous scope, the design of this project changed course mid-way through construction, leaving a lone builder baffled and weary in the wake of darkening skies. Nonetheless, we admire the foolish ambition required of nearly any important work. Grade: C+

Share your thoughts and any remarkable forts you’ve seen out there in the comments below.

Cheers and Merry Christmas from Team BUILD

Featured Image Source: Unreality Magazine