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. 

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"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.

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"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.

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"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.

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"4x4," S2 Architecture

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

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"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.