Since the Canadian winter typically keeps most people from hitting the beaches, the annual Winter Stations competition in Toronto has been trying to bring crowds back in creative ways: now in its seventh year, four winning designs and one student entry have been selected to be installed as temporary winter art installations in the coming weeks.
Under this year's theme 'Refuge,' design teams had to envision structures that offer refuge from the elements while also incorporating existing lifeguard towers spaced across the city's Kew and Woodbine beaches.
"We recognize this year, more than ever, we need to be flexible in how we operate," said Roland Rom Colthoff, founder of RAW Design, one of the Winter Stations cocreators. "Partnering with The Distillery District and the Beach BIA allows us to extend our exhibition by several weeks, while also giving Torontonians a chance to experience the installations in different settings."
Acknowledging the additional COVID-19 health challenges this year, Colthoff went on to say: "We continue to work with city officials on our plan for the exhibit, being mindful of the acute need for safety. Our plans and contingencies are in place and we are committed to launching the installations sometime this year. If that means postponing our event until restrictions ease, we might need to call them 'Spring' Stations, and bring safe, outdoor experiences to our city."
From more than 400 competition entries from around the globe, the following submissions have been chosen as the winning designs:
ARc de Blob by Aleksandra Belitskaja, Ben James and Shaun McCallum, Austria/UK (cover image)
"ARc de Blob is a colorful landmark in the Woodbine Beach landscape: a point of orientation, interaction and refuge. This architectural object creatively mixes physical materials with the ability to digitally interact and connect through a Mixed Reality App. The installation creates incredible virtual worlds - a figurative refuge where we can interact, connect and play. The physical form references iconic architectural composition and elements; and is contrasted with the colorful materials and patterns that create a warm and welcoming shelter. The arch itself acts as a frame for a virtual portal/refuge seen in Mixed Reality – a space of new digital worlds: creative environments designed to encourage visitors to play and interact together in digital and physical space. Ultimately, the piece is an evolving mix of digital art and physical architecture that creates playful interactions between these realities."
From Small Beginnings by Jack Leather and Charlie Leather, UK
"The Great Outdoors has been where many have found solace, perhaps unexpectedly so, over the past 12 months. A year like no other, but great enjoyment has been found in returning to more holistic roots. From Small Beginnings hopes to seize upon this movement; whilst giving platform and space to embrace new opportunities ahead. Through shelves bearing a future forest, the installation allows visitors to seek refuge from harsher elements, whilst both encountering strangers from a safe distance or simply enjoying a place for quiet reflection. Approaching the exterior, the stained and sombre timber provides stark contrast to the lively Spruce seedlings which are free to the elements. Only upon entering the seating and standing areas of the installation the brighter interior is revealed; symbolic of the opportunities that rise from challenging periods, such as the year gone by. Like the seedlings, which can be replanted locally upon closure of the exhibit, we are all simply at the beginnings of our journeys."
The Epitonium by M. Yengiabad by Shahed M. Yengiabad, Elaheh M. Yengiabad, Alemeh M. Yengiabad and Mojtaba Anoosha, Iran
"Throughout history, humankind has always strived to learn and to be inspired by the nature in order to engage in new experiences and provide a better and more efficient life for themselves and other beings. In fact, nature is the source of inspiration for architects, artists, investors and scientists. Nature is our origin and destination. Nature includes not only the external environments such as clouds, trees, sea, mountains and animals, but also buildings, components and building materials. By building structures with forms familiar to humans in nature, in addition to creating two-dimensional graphics, architecture has thickness, depth and volume; therefore, architecture can complement nature and be a part of it. The Epitonium creates a beautiful and functional landscape. The creation of this idea causes natural shelter to become a refuge. The design of this structure is inspired by epitonium, which is a type of seashell, and the structure is in great harmony with its location."
THROBBER by Heidundgriess by Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid, Germany
"The reasons why people seek refuge are as diverse as people themselves. But they all have one thing in common: they wait. The walk-in installation THROBBER consists of 10 small shelters. These trapezoidal rooms, lined up next to each other, each in monochrome but in combination, they form the colour spectrum of a rainbow. Inside the installation, the colours are reduced to grey. From an aerial view, the shelters form the shape of a “throbber”. Anyone who has used computer programs or digital devices (often while waiting) know of this icon. They force you to wait, because there is a superior action. This icon is adopted from the digital to the real world as a symbol for the state of active experience of time, a place of transition, where different perspectives, longings, hopes and motivations come together. The colourful installation is an invitation to perceive the similarities and connections with each other despite individual differences."
Embrace by Colin Laplante, Grace Im, Ziyu Li, Brayden Popke, Nicole Ruiz, Reem Yunis, Bachelor of Craft and Design Program, Sheridan College
"This year, we all need a hug. Embrace represents that universal desire, providing a refuge from the real and imagined winds that buffet our beings. The flowing form, suggestive of a beneficent and humorous character, reaches out to embrace the lifeguard tower and the public alike, protecting all from the environment and standing calmly on the beach in all weathers. The neutral white exterior of the form blends in with the winter beach landscape and provides a contrast with the red/orange interior, evoking feelings of protection, comfort and peace while we nestled in its embrace."
The 2021 Winter Stations jury was comprised of Toronto Mayor John Tory, Krystal Koo, Lisa Rochon, Jacquie Comrie, Norm Li, Evan C. Perelekos, and Co-Chairs City Councillor Brad Bradford and Tiffany Pratt.
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