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Competition: Ice Breakers 2019, Toronto

An open international contest has been announced for a series of temporary $15,000 CAD art installations on Toronto’s downtown waterfront (Deadline: 22 October)

Open to artists, designers, architects and landscape architects, the single-stage competition seeks proposals for new ‘durable and constructible’ artworks on Queens Quay between Lower Spadina Avenue and York Street.

Now in its third year, the Ice Breakers project is an offshoot of Toronto’s annual Winter Stations competition, which has delivered temporary winter installations on Toronto’s beaches for the past four years. Five winning schemes will be exhibited between 3 February and 25 March on the prominent site.

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

Source: Image by Andy Barrow

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

According to the brief: ‘For Ice Breaker’s third year the theme is “Signal Transmission”. The theme is open to interpretation, but as always, we are hoping to see work that is challenging, while also accessible, and a reminder that public art can be fun and engaging.

‘Signal Transmission may be approached as an exploration of data, digital and analogue communication, including the various modes and codes involved; it may also veer into the realm of biology, ecology and sociology. Simply, Signal Transmission is about how humans and other species speak - to each other and to our self, internally.’

The Ice Breakers contest is backed by Toronto’s Waterfront Business Improvement Area (BIA) and organised by RAW Design, Ferris + Associates and Curio – the collective behind Winter Stations.

The competition focuses on five prominent sites along the downtown waterfront: HTO Park West - 339 Queens Quay West; Maple Leaf Quay bridge (north side) - 370 Queens Quay West; HTO Park East - 339 Queens Quay West; Simcoe Wave Deck (flat eastern portion) - 243 Queens Quay West; and east of Ontario Square (in front of We Brew Café) - 235 Queens Quay West.

Ice Breakers installation: Incognito by Jaspal Riyait and Curio Art Consultancy

Ice Breakers installation: Incognito by Jaspal Riyait and Curio Art Consultancy

Source: Image by Andy Barrow

Ice Breakers installation: Incognito by Jaspal Riyait and Curio Art Consultancy

Shortlisted teams will be invited to participate in a technical review prior to the final judging session. The overall winners, to be announced 8 November, will each receive a $3,500.00 CAD honorarium to take their projects forward.

The chosen teams will also receive a $1,500 CAD travel and accommodation allowance covering time spent in the city during installation of the structures and the events surrounding their opening.

Submissions must be in English and include two A3-sized digital pages featuring a 150-word summary description and four scale drawings or renderings of the design itself.

The winners will be announced on 3 December and the chosen designs will be installed from 17 January till 3 March.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 22 October

Contact details

Email: info@winterstations.com

View the competition website for more information

Ensemble case study: Q&A with Joana Correia Silva

The co-founder of João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura discusses lessons learned designing last year’s winning schemes

João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva

João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva

João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva

How did your contest-winning scheme help to activate Toronto’s downtown district during the winter?

Ensemble was on display in Toronto’s Music Garden earlier this year. We feel there couldn’t really be a more suitable place for the installation as it thrived in the symbiosis between music, people and landscape. The idea of having large-scale wind chimes seems to have worked really well with Toronto´s winter and the sounds emanating from the piece could be heard from a distance, once the ‘instrument’ was tuned and in place. As a result, people of all ages were drawn by curiosity alone and could be seen ‘playing’ or enjoying the oversized musical instrument.

Ensemble by João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura

Ensemble by João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura

Ensemble by João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

The final design was largely defined by the initial concept of a large – urban scale – musical instrument, and also by allowing people to move around and inside it. Ensemble was built as a carillon, and each section had a series of chimes with different heights so we could get different tones. The chimes were hung from a wooden structure by strings, balancing freely and touching one another. This allowed us to bring the installation to life, not just visually, but essentially through sound.

Ensemble by João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura

Ensemble by João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura

Ensemble by João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura

What advice would you have to contest participants on taking part in this year’s contest?

Signal Transmission is the theme for this year’s Icebreakers edition. We anticipate a challenge, as the installations can’t rely on electrical power. As such, we envision a contemporary response, relying more on creativity alone and less on the technological aspect. In an era dominated by digital communication and the dependence on electrical energy, effectively transmitting a message with primitive technology can be of valuable knowledge. On a less serious take, contestants could explore their proposal as a critical medium of today´s society and the role of digital media. With that said, please be as imaginative, experimental and fearless as you can.

Ensemble by João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura

Ensemble by João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura

Ensemble by João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura

Q&A with Ted Merrick

The co-founder of Winter Stations and Ice Breakers discusses his ambitions for the competition

Ted Merrick

Ted Merrick

Ted Merrick

Why are your holding an annual international contest for temporary art works on Toronto’s Queens Quay?

Ice Breakers is the sister competition of Toronto’s Winter Stations. It was conceived along the same lines, to change the way Torontonians interact with the waterfront in the winter. The difference between Ice Breakers and Winter Stations is the setting. Ice Breakers is more of an urban setting, while Winter Stations occurs along the city’s eastern beaches.

Both competitions invite ideas for installations that will provide new experiences along the waterfront. The goal with Ice Breakers is to make Queens Quay a year-round destination. Last year’s winners included everyone from recent graduates to established design firms; by prioritising great design, we offer opportunities for new talent to gain notoriety and for established firms to flex their creativity. Toronto is defined by its diversity, so we also think it is important that international artists are invited to contribute designs. This way, Ice Breakers celebrates the best of Toronto and the world.

We see Ice Breakers as a catalyst for discussion, a moment of wonder, and an invitation to local residents and visitors from further afield, to step out of their buildings and take a winter walk along the Waterfront to appreciate the unique Toronto landscape at this time of year.

What is your vision for this year’s installations?

This year’s theme is ‘Signal Transmission.’ The concept is open to interpretation, but we see it as an exploration of how humans and other species speak to themselves and each other. We are not confined to a certain aesthetic, but we are hoping to see work that is both challenging and engaging to the public. The installations might touch on issues of technology, communication, or even biology and ecology. The key determining factor for selection, in addition to the artistry and quality of the design, will be how the proposed structure contends with Toronto’s winter climate – a unique design parameter has precipitated incredible creativity and innovation over the years.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

Our priority is to animate the waterfront in the most engaging way possible, which calls for a diversity of perspectives and approaches. Every year, we receive a wide range of submissions from architecture students, emerging practices, industry leaders, and independent artists. There’s no cost to submit, the process is quite simple, and anyone can apply. By removing these barriers to entry, we have made the competition accessible to everyone with an idea. This year, Ice Breakers will have an installation from Ryerson University. Having students involved is something we’ve done at Winter Stations every year and we’re thrilled to be bringing students to Ice Breakers.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

Ice Breakers is immediately followed by Winter Stations, which will bring public art installations to The Beaches from February to April. While both design competitions share a mandate to challenge the way Toronto thinks about Lake Ontario in the winter, the competitions take place in different locations and focus on separate themes. (The WinterStations 2019 theme is Migration, for those who want to start thinking about it.)

Are there any other recent temporary installation projects you have been impressed by?

Both Ice Breakers and Winter Stations are directly inspired by the Warming Huts competition that takes place in Winnipeg each year. We got the idea for Winter Stations after one of our co-founders, RAW Design designed an installation for Warming Huts. I’ve also secretly wanted to turn Winter Stations into Burning Man. Both Warming Huts and Burning Man are temporary ethereal installations meant to engage, challenge and delight an audience.