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Winter Stations transforms Toronto’s east beaches

Winter Stations transforms Toronto's east beaches

After a successful inaugural year in 2015, Winter Stations is returning to transform Toronto’s empty lifeguard stations into interactive, wintertime public art installations. The international design competition, founded by RAW Design, Ferris + Associates and Curio, almost doubled last year’s participation with 378 submissions from artists, designers and landscape architects in 49 countries.

Competitors were challenged to create temporary wintertime installations anchored to the utilitarian lifeguard stations along Toronto’s east end beaches. This year’s theme, Freeze/Thaw, asked designers and artists to respond to the changing climactic conditions and transitions of the Toronto winter.

“The international design community has continued to impress us with its ambitious submissions for this year’s Winter Stations competition,” said Ted Merrick of Ferris + Associates. “Our hope is that the creativity and playfulness in the selected designs will draw people outdoors and inspire people to look at the spaces around us from different perspectives.”

“Our goal is to eventually transform every hibernating lifeguard stand along Toronto’s east beaches,” says Roland Rom Colthoff of RAW Design. “It’s only through the generous support of our partners and sponsors that we have been able to launch and grow Winter Stations.”


In the Belly of a Bear by Caitlind r.c Brown, Wayne Garrett and Lane Shordee, CalgaryJuxtaposing 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 densely in thick, warm fur. Within this cozy, warm space, visitors can find reprieve from the cold outside or gaze out the large round window pointing towards the lake. A truly collaborative effort, In the Belly of a Bear was envisioned by a team of three Calgary-based artists, each bringing a distinct discipline to the project.

Floating Ropes by MUDO (Elodie Doukhan and Nicolas Mussche), MontrealCreating a highly sensory experience, Floating Ropes appears as a suspended cube of ropes, offering a playful and porous matrice into which visitors take shelter. At the centre of the multilayered rope forest, the lifeguard chair provides the perfect spot for the public to view the lake from a unique perspective. Architecture collective MUDO brings a handcrafted approach to their work, ranging from microarchitecture to urban design.

Sauna by FFLO (Claire Furnley and James Fox), Kent, U.K.Inviting the public to embrace this year’s Freeze/Thaw theme, Sauna is a completely immersive art installation bringing heat to the blustery lakeshore. Built from timber, the interior is comprised of tiered seating, the higher the hotter. Meanwhile, its transparent exterior walls allow passersby to get glimpse of thawing bathers within, with solar powered lights illuminating the structure at night. The design was submitted by FFLO, a U.K.-based practice with a comprehensive background in landscape architecture.

Flow by Team Secret (Calvin Fung and Victor Huynh), TorontoCapturing the transitionary moment between freeze and thaw, Flow reimagines a single ice crystal as a 3D star-shaped module digitally fabricated through slot-fitting wood connections. While capable of crystallizing into a solid state, the material is able to be easily reconfigured, like a liquid, due to the system’s loose bonds. Submitted by graduate students Calvin Fung and Victor Huynh, Flow is a reflection of the duo’s interdisciplinary backgrounds.


Lithoform by Remi Carreiro, Aris Peci and Vincent Hui, associate professor, Ryerson University, TorontoInspired by the natural formations formed by frost in the outer layer of earth, or Lithosphere, Lithoform aims 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.

The Steam Canoe by Curtis Ho, Jungyun Lee, Monifa Onca Charles, Reila Park, Hamid Shahi, Lambert St. Cyr, Jaewon Kim, Jason Wong and Mark Tholen, assistant professor, OCADU, TorontoComposed of wood panels, OCADU’s design resembles that of an upside-down canoe, creating an interior dome for the public to take shelter. Evacuated solar tubes placed at the rear of the structure are designed to turn snow to steam, creating a halo of fog emerging from within this steam canoe.

Aurora Borealis by Chris Baziw, Ra’anaa Brown, Trevor D’Orazio, Andrew Harkness, Matthew Hunter, Danielle Kastelein and Terrance Galvin, director of architecture, Laurentian University, SudburyMade from sewn fabric, LED lights and a welded aluminum frame, Aurora is a kinetic sculpture that hovers above the lifeguard station like a spinning chandelier. As the visitor approaches and touches the illuminated tubes, they respond to body heat by changing colour.

To help cover the production costs, Winter Stations is also launching an Indiegogo campaign, with the goal of crowd funding an additional station. Indiegogo participants have the opportunity to get their hands on some great perks, including posters and postcards of the winning stations and a private meet-and-greet with the winning artists.

Winter Stations sponsors for 2016 include the Ontario Association of Architects, Great Gulf, Diamante Developments, Demirov Fine Homes, The Rockport Group, Fieldgate Homes, Urban Capital, as well as the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects, the Design Exchange and the City of Toronto.

All 2016 installations will be unveiled on February 15 and will be available for viewing until March 19.

To check out all 378 design submissions and to learn more about the Indiegogo campaign, please visit