These Tiny Huts Are Key to a Frigid Winter Sport, But You'll Never Guess Which

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By Luke Hopping / Published by Dwell
Five Vermont architecture firms conceptualize cozier quarters for a popular pastime.

The ice shanty, which in its purest form consists of a ramshackle wood or corrugated metal box, is an austere typology meant to shelter wintertime fishers on Vermont's many frozen lakes. The huts typically provide four walls, a roof, and little else to protect occupants against onslaughts of wind and snow, to say nothing of sub-freezing temperatures, while they drill holes and drop lines through layers of thick ice. 

"Fish Tales: Between Earth and Ice," Peregrine Design/Build

Where water and land meet along the rocky shores of Lake Champlain, the winds and currents wash up sharpened slabs of ice, a phenomenon this shanty by Peregrine Design/Build recreates with its jagged, glistening roof.

This winter, the Shelburne Museum in Vermont called it time for an update to the age-old design. Their ARCTICtecture project, held in association with a current exhibition called 32 DEGREES: The Art of Winter, invited five local firms to each rethink the shanties that dot Lake Champlain. What they came up with is a wintry mix of sculptural, eccentric, and functional upgrades. Preview their ice-ready adaptations here, or visit them in-person on the lawn at the Shelburne Museum from now until April 11.

"All Things Sweet and Sour," Selin + Selin Architecture

Drawing a straight line between the contemplative nature of ice shanties and houses of worship, Selin + Selin Architecture built two pitched-roof mini chapels so they could be in dialogue with each other.

"The Ice Ark," TruexCullins Architecture + Design

TruexCullins Architecture + Design fabricated their shanty to look as wispy as the wind and as sleek as the ice on Lake Champlain.

"4x4," S2 Architecture

This modernist cube by S2 Architecture features transparent Plexiglas windows that emit a warm glow from the interior.

"i.ce. c.u.b.e.," Pill-Maharam Architects

Defined by large windows made of tempered glass with one-way film, architect David Pill's submission quite literally reflects on winter. He explains that winter's ephemerality, in terms of both seasonal and long-term climate change, motivated him.