April 26, 2006

Renewable ice palace starts European tour in London

By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) - Two businessmen have shipped 200 tonnes
of frozen deoxygenated water from Canada to London to build an
ice palace that will go on show in the British capital before
making a European tour.

The IceSpace, which opens to the public on Monday, will
stand for two months on the banks of the River Thames next to
the city's landmark Tower Bridge before traveling on to
Barcelona and Berlin at the height of the European summer.

Seventy feet high and 300 feet long, the palace contains
ice bars and an ice rink, and will host performance artists and
display ice sculptures.

"Something like this has never been seen here in Europe
before," British co-owner Philip Hughes told Reuters. "There is
a wow! factor both visually and from the temperature change."

Fresh ice will be shipped in from Canada to replace the
palace and the sculptures as they melt in their progress from
city to city.

By deoxygenating water before freezing it, the suppliers
produce an unusually pure, clear ice. "All the carving blocks
of ice come from Canada where the water is purer and they know
how to produce the quality and clarity of ice that we need in
ice sculpting," Hughes said.

He said he and his partner Peter Pallai had been planning
the 1.5 million pound ($2.7 million) project for several years.
"We will dispose of the water in consultation with the local
authorities," Hughes said.

For each ticket sold, the partners will make a contribution
to WaterAid, an international charity dedicated to providing
clean water and sanitation, he said.

Each visitor will be provided with a thermally insulated
coat and gloves to protect them from the minus 5 Celsius
temperature inside the structure, and will be told to leave
after one hour because of the intense cold.

The structure will be cloaked in special insulating
material and chilled by constantly running refrigeration units
to protect it from summer temperatures.

Details of the ice palace and ticket prices can be found at