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Sauna, fur-lined dome among winners in Winter Station competition

When the architects at RAW Design launched Toronto’s Winter Stations competition last year, asking designers to come up with whimsical installations to liven up the waterfront east of Ashbridges Bay during the tough winter months, they were thinking locally: The Beach neighbourhood specifically and the City of Toronto more generally.

But the 380 entries in this year’s competition, themed Freeze/Thaw, came from designers from all over the world, with one of the four winning 2016 submissions hailing from the UK.

“We kind of went viral and once stuff went on the web, we attracted interest from all over the place,” says Aaron Hendershott, an architect at RAW. “There’s an interest in recreating some of these installations and bringing what we do here to other cities. Certainly there’s a lot of interest in design for the wintertime, something that gives people an excuse to go out and enjoy the city in the winter. The beach isn’t just a summertime environment.”

The UK winner, Sauna by Claire Furnley and James Fox at Leeds-based FFLO landscape architects, is an actual sauna, where passersby can see through the transparent exterior to bathers thawing out on tiered seating inside. “I’m interested in stations that are really going to provoke a new type of community space. The Sauna entry is calmer from a design perspective but I’m intrigued how this will work in a public space,” says Hendershott, who worked on the competition with the jury and fellow organizers at Ferris + Associates and Curio.

The station called In the Belly of a Bear, by Caitlind r.c Brown, Wayne Garrett and Lane Shordee of Calgary, has visitors climb up a wooden ladder into a domed interior lined with fur. Floating Ropes, by MUDO (Elodie Doukhan and Nicolas Mussche) of Montreal, offers a suspended cube of ropes in which visitors take shelter. Flow, by Team Secret (Calvin Fung and Victor Huynh) of Toronto, allows 3D star-shaped modules to be reconfigured into different structures with slot-fitting wooden connections.

The four winners, along with stations designed by students at OCAD, Ryerson and Laurentian universities, will be built from February 10 to 14 along Kew, Scarborough and Balmy beaches south of Queen Street East, between Woodbine and Victoria Park avenues. Installations will debut on February 15, and stay open to the public until March 20. Each station is required to cost less than $10,000 in materials and labour.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Aaron Hendershott
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