An Architecture Firm Wants to Bring Ice Skating to the Middle of the Thames River


An architecture firm wants to bring ice skating back to London’s Thames River. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, during the cold of the Little Ice Age, the Thames would often freeze for months at a time, and London would hold events known as Frost Fairs on the solid surface, with pop-up shops, pubs, and yes, skating. The last of these fairs took place in 1814. The river no longer freezes solid for months at a time, but the design firm NBBJ has come up with a design to bring a bit of the Frost Fairs back to the Thames regardless. 

The NBBJ design, called Frost Flowers, proposes a series of jetties that could be installed on the river. These circular structures would fold up in a flower-like structure, and unfold onto the water. They would be submerged just a little, so that a thin layer of ice would form on their surface. These platforms, filled with naturally-forming ice, would serve as skating rinks and platforms for markets and exhibitions. 

The design is just a conceptual exercise, and there aren’t any plans yet to actually install it. But theoretically, it could be deployed in any cold-weather city with a river. It’s one of many outside-the-box ideas the architecture firm has tossed out as improvements on city life, including skyscrapers that won’t cast shadows, and underground people-movers to replace subway lines. 

All images courtesy NBBJ