Bloody Volvo driver…you wish you were! Volvo gets into some seriously cool, seriously Bond-esque work in Sweden, as their machines are used to ensure the iconic Icehotel can run year-round.
Since 1989, Sweden’s Icehotel has been thrilling the willing at 200km above the Arctic Circle. Visitors to the town of Jukkasjärvi (don’t worry, we can’t pronounce it either) have been treated to wilderness tours, Arctic saunas, and fabulous ice sculpture displays each winter. Thanks to Volvo, however, Icehotel now boasts a permanent, year-round structure: ICEHOTEL 365.
Ironically, the spring and summer sun which would traditionally melt the hotel come April and May, is now being used to power the refrigerators which keep the structure cool. Icehotel founder Yngve Bergkvist, who has a background in environmental science, says that many never believed that tourists would willingly come to a place like Jukkasjärvi in the winter. Since the hotel’s launch he’s been proving them wrong. However, the seasonal nature of the attraction has always troubled him.
“We have never been satisfied with the natural off-season that the summer usually presents. And that’s what we are going to change with the new all-year facility.”
Thanks to Volvo’s hardy machines, that’s no longer an issue. ICEHOTEL 365 is a structure which, year-round, boasts over 20 suites, as well as an ice bar, and the ‘Dancers in the Dark’ room which encourages guests to boogie amongst the sculptures.
The hotel is such a hit, that one may be inclined to ask ‘what took you so long?’ Well, reader, building a hotel at extreme temperatures is not only incredibly difficult for the human among us, but hard on the machines as well. Severe temperatures, like the ones experienced in far north Sweden can wreak havoc on machinery fluids, batteries, tyres and more. Enter stage left—Volvo.
“The extreme cold is definitely a challenge for man and machine as we are working in -30° to -40°C at times. For this purpose, we only use Volvo machines as they are generally regarded as the most reliable.” Alf Kero, site manager.
The 2,100-square meter permanent structure sits amongst the existing winter hotel construction in the colder months, and is kept cool by solar energy during the warmer months. During spring and summer, the Arctic location experiences up to 100 days of constant sunshine. Bergkvist and his team have harnessed this previously season-ending phenomenon to bring a permanent solution to visitors, who’ve been asking for it for years. More guests, all year, are not the only motivations for the innovation, however, as Bergkvist explains:
“Every year there are guests from around the world who ask if they can visit us in summer and autumn, so this is the result of that demand. Research shows that in the future our winters will be shorter so we wanted to create a product that is sustainable.”
Icehotel is operating as a carbon-negative endeavour, generating over 130,000kWh of power each year. During the winter, the cooling required is minimal, whereas during the days of constant sunshine, the solar units feed back surplus power into restaurants, offices and ‘warm rooms’ on site.