Think about some of the amazing architectural structures in the world – bridges, towers, skyscrapers. Engineers spend hours developing plans and choosing materials for their structures. One of the most interesting architectural structures is made entirely out of one material, snow! Igloos are dome-shaped snow houses. They are built by Inuit people who are native to the frozen tundra.
Igloos have distinct characteristics. The strong domes are self-supporting and provide protection from wind and heavy snowfall. Inuit enter igloos through a tunnel. The tunnel leads to a main living area. Inuit sleep in the living area on raised surfaces. Sleeping areas are elevated because warm air rises and cool air sinks. So, the sleeping area in an igloo retains the most heat. Igloos are built with blocks made of compressed snow. When snow is compressed, it traps air inside. The air pockets make the snow blocks great insulators. Insulators trap heat to keep things warm. Inuit stack the blocks of snow leaning on each other curving toward the center. The thick walls insulate the interior of the structure, so it is much warmer inside than outside. Animal skins can be used as door flaps to cover the front of the tunnel. Igloos also have a ventilation hole on the top of the dome. The hole allows air to flow in and out of the igloo to keep oxygen levels safe. Igloos can be several sizes depending on how long the igloo is going to be used and how many people will need it. Small igloos were used as temporary shelter for the short Inuit hunting season. Families built larger igloos beside each other to form Inuit villages. Thanks to clever engineering, igloos have kept native people safe and warm for hundreds of years.
What Do You Think? How do the snow blocks of the igloo stick together? Do some research to find out!
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