Winter Stations proposals unveiled for Toronto's frozen beaches

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A fur-lined globe, a steam-emitting canoe and a transparent sauna are among the winning designs for a series of shelters to be erected on the edge of Toronto's frozen lakes (+ slideshow).

Seven teams of artists and designers have been selected to convert the lifeguard stations positioned along the shorelines into temporary pavilions. They are the winners of the annual Winter Stations competition, which was set up by RAW Design, Ferris + Associates and Curio in 2015 to encourage Toronto residents to enjoy their snowy winter landscape.

This year, artists and designers were asked to respond to Ontario's harsh winters under the theme Freeze/Thaw. The seven structures will be installed around lifeguard towers along Toronto's Kew, Scarborough and Balmy Beaches.

Belly of a Bear by Caitlind RC Brown, Wayne Garrett and Lane Shordee
Belly of a Bear by Caitlind RC Brown, Wayne Garrett and Lane Shordee

"The public participation in Winter Station's inaugural year proves that even the most overlooked winterscapes can be injected with vibrancy and life," said Ted Merrick of Ferris + Associates. "Our ultimate goal for year two remains the same – to encourage the community out of hibernation and back to the beach."

A large sphere clad in charred timber and lined with fur is a collaboration between Calgary-based artists Caitlind RC Brown, Wayne Garrett and Lane Shordee. Called In the Belly of a Bear, the structure features a small porthole, where visitors can enter the structure to seek relief from the cold.

Floating Ropes by Elodie Doukhan and Nicolas Mussche of MUDO
Floating Ropes by Elodie Doukhan and Nicolas Mussche of MUDO

"Juxtaposing a dark, charred aesthetic against the bright, stark landscape, In the Belly of a Bear invites the public to climb up a wooden ladder into a domed interior lined densley in thick, warm fur," said the artists.



"Within this cosy, warm space, visitors can find reprieve from the cold outside or gaze out the large round window pointing towards the lake," they added.

Floating Ropes by Elodie Doukhan and Nicolas Mussche of MUDO
Floating Ropes by Elodie Doukhan and Nicolas Mussche of MUDO

Lengths of rope will be suspended from a frame around another lifeguard chair to create a sheltered viewpoint for visitors to admire the frozen landscape. The design called Floating Ropes, was created by Elodie Doukhan and Nicolas Mussche of Montreal architecture collective MUDO.

Claire Furnley and James Fox from Kent landscape studio FFLO aim to bring warmth to the blustery, lakeshore location with their Sauna installation. Inside, visitors will be able to perch on heated tiered seating and take in views of their surroundings through the structure's transparent walls.

Sauna by Claire Furnley and James Fox of FFLO
Sauna by Claire Furnley and James Fox of FFLO

"Its transparent exterior walls allow walkers by to get glimpse of thawing bathers within, with solar powered lights illuminating the structure at night," said Furnley and Fox.

Aiming to capture the transition between freeze and thaw, graduates Calvin Fung and Victor Huynh will create the Flow shelter made from spiky 3D-printed elements based on ice crystals.

Flow by Calvin Fung and Victor Huynh
Flow by Calvin Fung and Victor Huynh

Three of the designs come from architecture, design and landscape departments of Ryerson University, OCADU and Laurentian University.

Lithoform by a group from Ryerson University
Lithoform by a group from Ryerson University

A group from Ryerson University have devised a faceted structure featuring coloured shards based on frost formations. The brightly coloured pieces included in Lithoform aim to "create a reprieve from the harsh winter winds."

"The structure's cleverly designed fissures create a polychromatic cavern of filtered light around the lifeguard station," said the team.

The Steam Canoe by OCADU
The Steam Canoe by a group from OCADU

An up-ended canoe formed the inspiration for OCADU's wooden shelter, which creates a dome over one lifeguard tower. Solar tubes at the back of The Steam Canoe will convert snow into vapour to emit a halo of fog.

Tubular lights will be hung from a welded aluminium frame to recreate the lights of the Aurora Borealis in Laurentian University's design. The lights illuminate as visitors approach the structure and change in response to body heat.

Aurora Borealis by a group from Laurentian University
Aurora Borealis by a group from Laurentian University

"Aurora is an kinetic sculpture that hovers above the lifeguard station like a spinning chandelier," said the group.

The structures will open to the public on 15 February to coincide with Family Day and remain in place until 20 March 2016.

"Visitors will discover a feast of textures in the schemes – from vessels clad in charred wood to sailing rope to vintage furs," said Lisa Rochon, who chaired a jury including Harvard professor and landscape architect Jane Hutton, Alex Josephson of Partisans Architecture and 2015 Winter Stations winners Lily Jeon and Diana Koncan.

"Inventive, playful and irreverent, all of the installations can be read like pieces of poetry on the beach," she added.


Project credits:

Laurentian University team: Chris Baziw, Ra'anaa Brown, Trevor D'Orazio, Andrew Harkness, Matthew Hunter, Danielle Kastelein, Terrance Galvin
OCADU team: Curtis Ho, Jungyun Lee, Monifa Onca Charles, Reila Park, Hamid Shahi, Lambert St‐Cyr, Jaewon Kim, Jason Wong, Mark Tholen
Ryerson University team: Remi Carreiro, Aris Peci, Vincent Hui
Sponsors: Ontario Association of Architects, Great Gulf, Diamante Developments, Demirov Fine Homes, The Rockport Group, Fieldgate Homes, Urban Capital, Bousfields, Ontario Association of Landscape Architects, Design Exchange, City of Toronto

  • amanda morton

    It saddens me to hear that the use of fur has been put forward in one of the designs. I think in this day and age we should concentrate on ethical and sustainable materials and processes.

    Design, albeit a wonderful thing, is sometimes very fickle. I find it difficult to appreciate a good design if the ways in which materials are sourced are in bad taste, or that a mass of over-indulgent materials are used without thought.

    • thepixinator

      I had the same thought, but then at the end there was this: “Visitors will discover a feast of textures in the schemes – from vessels clad in charred wood to sailing rope to vintage furs.” This makes me think they are re-purposing furs found in thrift stores.

  • Jon

    That’s no sauna, it’s a space station!

  • Roman Thomson

    Obviously, self-proclaimed “artists” from Alberta were not able to go any further in their imagination than the farms where they were raised. Something tells me with this creativity level they all will end up back in the stalls.