Snowfest ‘Igloo’ brings interesting architectural features to local celebration of winter
By DAVID LAVENDER
That glowing 70-foot diameter orb in Centennial Park is the Igloo for Snowfest now in its 10th year of celebrating winter through this weekend.
Geodesic domes are a rare sight in our urban landscapes, although they can be found wherever inexpensive column free spaces are needed. Canadians have the iconic Eskimo igloo dome and the Dew Line Radar stations in Canada’s North and as part of our heritage.
The first geodesic dome was invented by Walther Bauersfeld after World War I. At the time, Bauersfeld was chief engineer of the Carl Zeiss optics company and he needed a building that didn’t yet exist to be the ideal housing for projector for his planetarium. Years later, Buckminster Fuller made the geodesic dome famous (n actually coined the term) with his design of the United States Pavilion at Expo ’67 in Montreal. Other dome constructions that can be seen are the Cinesphere at Ontario Place and the McLaughlin Planetarium at the Royal Ontario Museum, both in Toronto.
The Snowfest organizers purchased their dome two years ago from Pacific Domes International with a grant from the Trillium Foundation, the purpose being to provide a warm venue for entertainment and a shelter for visitors during the events.
The geodesic dome is constructed of standard metal struts in a series of triangles to create a self-supporting enclosure. Jim Vergunst, president of both Snowfest and Grafiks Marketing and Communications, notes that it only takes a day for a handful of people to erect the Igloo thanks to Sterling Crane and Chemfab Inc. The vinyl fabric cover is assembled with zippers and velcro and hoisted into place as a single membrane. He adds that another amazing characteristic is that all the parts can be stored and transported in the Snow-to-Go trailer with a pickup truck.
Architecture is as much space as it is form. And it is the spectacular space created by the dome that is truly awesome and makes it a must see. The translucent cover creates a soft naturally lit interior and combined with the expansive interior space makes you feel like you are floating.
Publication: Lambton Shield