McDonough’s ICEhouse Celebrates its Third Year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

William McDonough’s ICEhouse™ (Innovation for the Circular Economy house), which made its debut in January 2016, celebrates its third year as a meeting space for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. Since its inception, the space has served as a central hub for global leaders and innovators attending the annual meeting. McDonough, a customary attendee for the event, has been leading sustainability and circular economy discussions at WEF for almost two decades. He served as the inaugural Chair of the Forum’s Meta-Council on the Circular Economy (2014-2016) and won the 2017 Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership during last year’s event. This year, he will be leading a historic conversation with industry leaders on carbon in the fourth industrial revolution, which will build on his commentary published in the scientific journal Nature: Carbon is not the enemy during COP22 in Marrakech, November 2016. McDonough aims to facilitate a momentous dialogue in moving beyond the circular economy in order to design for the next century.

“The ICEhouse represents the idea of creating intention for materials innovation in the circular economy,” said McDonough. “The materials serve a purpose, they come apart, and then serve other purposes. There is no waste. The conversations happening inside the ICEhouse are also significant in that we’ll be exploring tough challenges industries face, such as how to use carbon in the fourth industrial revolution. How can we safely recycle chemicals? How can we get beyond oil and deal with its remnants already designed here on Earth? What can we do with ocean plastics to make recycling nontoxic and material integrity far-reaching? How can we produce value without negative consequences? This is only the tip of the iceberg–together we will use the ICEhouse as a meeting ground for innovation for the circular economy and beyond.”

The ICEhouse is primarily made of four materials: aluminum (the structural frame), polymer, aerogel, and Nylon 6 carpet tiles from Shaw Floors. These four materials are assembled in ways that allow them to be easily disassembled and reused in another location. As defined technical nutrients, at the end of their use cycles they can be returned to industry and endlessly remanufactured into new products with no loss in material quality. They are all either Cradle to Cradle Certified™ or in the process of becoming certified.

ICEhouse also is an experiment in employing the WonderFrame, McDonough’s broader vision for an open source, simple, flexible structural system that can be erected quickly and that can be made of locally available materials. The structure is comprised of simple elements connected using simple tools. This special Davos version uses aluminum for the frame material. The walls and roof structure were assembled on-site by a crew of four workers in just a few days; the entire structure will be completed in eleven days.

Working with Hub Culture, a global collaboration network, the ICEhouse was designed by William McDonough + Partners, Architects and built by WonderFrame, LLC. The project was supported by and is in close collaboration with SABIC. For more information about the ICEhouse, see here.


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ICEhouse and WonderFrameare a trademarks of McDonough Innovation.