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Ice Fishing Huts 2015

The ice fishing huts were the central project for the first year undergraduate design studio of the 2014/15 academic year. The studio was divided into five groups of 13 or 14 students who worked with their professor to develop one shanty. Five huts were built. Images here highlight the Long Hut and the Chair group projects.


After studying the Sudbury Basin and drawing sections in order to record what lies above and below a sheet of frozen water, students were asked to design and build a hut to be used on one of Sudbury's 300 lakes. They studied how a simple one room shelter,  a protected volume in a windy, frozen expanse, in multiple adds up to form a community of huts, creating a social network and seasonal public space during Northern Ontario's long, cold winters.


Students were asked to use ‘economy of means’ to be as efficient as possible with each of their design moves. Lightness, portability, repeatability, and unusual form were all part of the project's vocabulary. 


The design parameters for the Ice Hut were intentionally left open-ended for investigation. Very simply they were to be made primarily made of wood, have a floor plan size be between 3 m2  [32 sf] and no larger than 6 m2 [64 sf], and not exceed a budget of $1000, including the value of donated items.


Students were introduced to strict budgeting and following a critical path construction plan, which was carried out in the school's one room hybrid shop/studio. Hand held cordless tools were primarily used during construction.


A opening was held outside Science North, a natural history museum, upon completion with hot chocolate and roasted marshmellows to warm the minus 20 temperatures. The huts were then auctioned off to the highest bidder inside of Science North. This project was the first building design project in our four year undergraduate program. For many students it was their first building design project and the first construction they built.


Images and Plans

Technical Description

The Long Hut
Based on the communal Ojibwe long house this hut is built primarily of plywood. The ribs, each eccentric, are lap jointed 3/4" plywood. They were fabricated from one to one computer generated drawings. The patterns were hand nested on the 4' x 8' sheets to maximize material usage. The ribs were also programmed as storage spaces with hooks and shelves. The exterior was made of 1/2" plywood which were fabricated from hand made cardboard patterns traced from the ribs after they had been secured to the base. The outrigger skies add to the dynamism and lightness of the buildings sinuous geometry.
The Chair
This ice fishing hut is as an accumulation of ten finely crafted wood high back chairs that surround a fishing hole. The circular arrangement of chairs provides protection from the elements and an atmosphere for conversation while waiting for the fish to bite. 
Design research originated with the bent plywood material studies and furniture designs of architects Charles and Ray Eames and Alvar Aalto. Their work inspired a series of bent plywood studies that were employed in the design of a light-weight curved plywood chair. Considered in the design of the individual chairs was its ability to be used as an architectural building component. When several chair units are multiplied and connected they form the walls and structure of an elliptical shaped ice fishing hut.



The Chair ice fishing hut explores several innovative design and construction ideas that could be developed and employed in larger scale buildings in northern climates including: 1) the use of prefabricated wood construction units that are built within a controlled environment and shipped to the building site for assembly, 2) the use of curved plywood as a lightweight structural component as well as sheathing material, and 3) the design integration of architectural and furniture components.



McEwen School of ArchitectureLaurentian University
Material donationsEvans Home Hardware and building Supply
Material donationsHome Depot
Material DonationKelly Lake Building Supplies


Architecture 130 Students


Project Start:2013
Year of Completion:2014
Life span:10 year(s)
The content is liscensed under the following Creative Commons license.
Creative Commons Licence