Lifetime Igloo Maker Designs “Treegloo” Near WPI Rainer Reichel Campus

WORCESTER — Not only did Rainer Reichel insulate himself from the cold, his primary focus, but he designed a residential snow hut that would make “Nanook of the North” jealous.

Reichel, 44, who holds a master’s degree in architecture from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, has been building igloos since he was 6 years old.

Over the weekend, he built a fancy igloo outside his house near the college campus.

Roomier and perhaps safer than most freshman dorms, the “Treegloo” has a tall white pine sticking out of its center.

“I didn’t even put any pressure on the branches,” Reichel said. “I work with what I call slush-create. So I work with slush when it’s below freezing.

On Sunday, Reichel threw a “Treegloo” party with his family and friends in honor of the completion of his circular ice palace.

Charlie Hopkins, Rainer Reichel and a child inside one of the igloos built around the base of a Sunday pine tree in Worcester.  Reichel and his wife Chutimon threw a party to celebrate the completion of the igloos.

Next to his “Treegloo” is a smaller igloo he built before the recent storm. Both structures are frozen solids.

For the two igloos that are a snowball’s throw from the WPI campus, Reichel cleared the snow from the family driveway while leaving the yard surrounding the “Treegloo” and igloo unshoveled.

“I wanted to leave the courtyard natural because in the past in many igloos I have collected snow from the courtyard, it turns into a mud festival,” Reichel said. “So I hauled the snow with the wheel barrel or the snow sleds, so most of the work is keeping the snow clean and scooping it up.”

Equipped with a plastic block maker, a 5-gallon bucket of water and a trusty snow shovel, Reichel needed five days to scoop up the snow and two to build it.

Chutimon and Rainer Reichel inside an igloo he built near the WPI campus on Sunday.  The igloo had a bench, an ice sculpture, candles, a wooden floor, and a vent at the top for circulation.

“Building (the igloo) itself takes less time than collecting all the snow,” Reichel said. “It’s tough but this one was really fast for my builds.”

His architectural and engineering background was crucial in his frozen design.

“When it’s below freezing and it’s really cold, everything is solid,” he said. “But as soon as it heats up, if you had a curve facing inwards, without any support, it’s going to collapse. Everything has to have an arc because there can’t be straight lines in an igloo. , otherwise it is very low.

The igloo has a door that a 6 foot person can easily walk through and a nice wooden bench.

Chutimon and Rainer Reichel inside an igloo he built near the WPI campus on Sunday.  The igloo had a bench, an ice sculpture, candles, a wooden floor, and a vent at the top for circulation.

In addition, the “Treegloo” is equipped with an electrical outlet for a coffee maker or stove.

Reichel—who keeps a close eye on the dew point (not the temperature)—explains that if the dew point is above freezing, the igloo might melt a little, and if it’s above 40 degrees, it may need to put a tarp over it.

Incorporating what he calls “nature’s integrated design,” Reichel said the longest of his igloos lasted four months.

“When you look at a typical construction site, they first raze every scrap of life and put inert materials in there and put in whatever they want to build, and then they add their trees, bushes, and dirt from elsewhere. “, said Reichel. “To me, it’s very disrespectful of nature… You can make a beautiful space and you don’t have to change what’s in it. You can make your built-in design basically my point here.

Chutimon Reichel and his friend Charlie Hopkins in front of the igloos on Sunday in Worcester.  After Rainer Reichel finished building the igloos, the couple threw a party for their friends.

Although he’d like people to visit his snow fortress, he’s tired of giving out his address because he doesn’t want to jam the already congested street overlooking the WPI campus.

However, if anyone is really interested in seeing his “Treegloo”, Reichel said he can email him at [email protected].

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