Winter Stations 2021

Giant seashell features in Toronto's delayed Winter Stations 2021

Four pavilions including a giant seashell and a colourful archway have opened in Toronto as part of the coronavirus-delayed annual Winter Stations event.

Opening late due to delays caused by a coronavirus lockdown, the Winter Stations have been built in the city rather than the usual spot of Woodbine Beach on Lake Ontario.

Four competition-winning designs have been realised around the theme of Refuge for this year's event.

Temporary pavilions put up in Toronto, Canada
Top and above: the Epitonium is shaped like a seashell

ARc de Blob is a pink arch decorated with pastel patterns of hearts and sunshine that visitors can walk through and stand underneath

Designed by an Austrian and UK-based team made up of Aleksandra Belitskaja, Ben James and Shaun McCallum, the ARc de Blob comes with an augmented reality app so people can also interact with the pavilion digitally.

ARc de Blob at Toronto's Winter Stations 2021
ARc de Blob comes with an augmented reality app

The giant seashell was designed by an Iranian team of Shahed M Yengiabad, Elaheh M Yengiabad, Alemeh M Yengiabad and Mojtaba Anoosha.

Called The Epitonium, the curling shell-shaped structure invites visitors to stand inside one at a time and admire how nature creates its own refuges from the elements.

ARc de Blob pavilion in Toronto's Distillery Historic District
A sunshine pattern was painted on ARc de Blob

UK team Jack and Charlie Leather realised their winning design called From Small Beginnings.

Made from wooden shelves, the pavilion has a recessed bench where visitors can sit and take shelter. The shelves are full of tree saplings, which people are invited to take away with them to plant.

From Small Beginnings wooden pavilion in Toronto, Canada
From Small Beginnings features shelves and a bench

These three installations have been built in the Distillery Historic District, a pedestrianised arts and entertainment district built in an old 19th-century whisky distillery.

The fourth, called Throbber, is located on 33 Parliament Street just south of the district.

Designed by German duo Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid, Throbber is a rainbow-coloured wheel of socially distanced benches.

Its name and design come from the name given to loading graphics on computer software, and it was designed as a metaphor for how people's lives have been put on hold during the pandemic.

Tree saplings for the public offered by From Small Beginnings
Visitors are invited to take tree saplings away with them

The pavilions will be in place until late July, with the Winter Stations organisers hoping to move them to a spot on the beach for the rest of the summer.

Normally the pavilions are built to help Torontonian's enjoy the beach even during the harsh Canadian winters.

Throbber pavilion at Toronto's Winter Stations 2021 event
Throbber is a circle of socially distanced seats

"The circumstances of the last year have forced us to get creative, but thankfully creativity is in the DNA of Winter Stations," said Winter Stations co-founders Roland Rom Colthoff.

"I can say that this year's launch is certainly the warmest we've ever had in the seven years that Winter Stations has been active."

Winter Stations was founded by architecture studios RAW Design, Ferris + Associates and Curio. Previous years pavilions have included a giant wind chime and a mock-up border wall with a bridge over the top.

The photography is by Khristel Stecher.


Winter Stations 2021 is on display at the Distillery Historic District and 33 Parliament Street until late July. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.