Reimagining the Ice Shanty with plywood, polycarbonate, and red fishing line

Ice Fishing is a rugged wintertime activity in northern states like Vermont.  For many it’s a sport, a pastime, and sometimes a necessity.  So it was with our own determination, eagerness, and perhaps a bit of serendipity, that we took on the task of reinterpreting the prototypical ice fishing shanty.

TruexCullins was invited to participate, along with four other architecture and design teams, to conceive and fabricate an architectural folly inspired by the forms and functions of traditional ice shanties.  The five follies made their debut this past weekend at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont.  ARCTICtecture: The Ice Shanty Project is a wonderful collection of diverse follies that are there to augment the exhibit “32 Degrees-the Art of Winter”.

Here’s a glimpse of our Ice Ark project designed and built by four of us at TruexCullins (Keith Nelson, Andrew Chardain, Josh Chafe and yours truly … with substantial help from many others).

iceark_on site
on site at the Shelburne Museum

We approached this as a project that would be fabricated in large part with a computer driven CNC machine (thank you Doug Walker) utilizing our computer files as the driver. The vertical bents and the exterior plywood skin were fabricated in this manner. The base and horizontal ribs were fabricated traditionally but the plywood was fastened to the bents using red paracord. This creates the small light holes on the exterior skin.  Clear polycarbonate panels on the end elevation bring daylight into the interior, while offering protection from the biting Vermont winter winds.

Ice Ark interior
detail, shoelace stitching

We wanted the project to experiment in ways that are not always accessible in our “day job” projects, hoping of course that this bit of experimentation serves to influence our thinking going forward. No doubt it will.

The museum gave each design team a stipend of $1,000.00 dollars for materials. This too, was a challenge, but our goal was to actually construct the piece for that amount …. and …. drum roll please ….. we succeeded.  At least if you don’t count the pizza and beer consumed during the course of things.

Although we haven’t had much of a winter (no visible ice on Lake Champlain here from my window), this project did get us into the winter mode. If you live nearby and have a chance to visit the museum, by all means, do so.  The shanties will be on display on the Shelburne Museum grounds until April 11, 2016.  After which, our shanty may go into hibernation until the following winter, when we hope it will be put to good use.

loading onto the trailer for transport to the site
Keith Nelson, seen through our passive solar “window”