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Competition: Ice Breakers, Toronto

An open international contest has been announced for a series of temporary $15,000 CAD art installations on Toronto’s downtown waterfront (Deadline: 13 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 second 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 three years. Five winning schemes will be exhibited between 3 February and 25 March on the prominent site.

Ice Breakers installation: Icebox by Polymetis

Ice Breakers installation: Icebox by Polymetis

Ice Breakers installation: Icebox by Polymetis

According to the brief: ‘For Ice Breaker’s second year the theme is “Constellation”. This can be interpreted in various ways, but we are hoping to see work that is challenging, while also accessible, reminding the public that public art can be fun and engaging.

‘Artists may choose to converse with the winter constellations of the Northern Hemisphere, playing with astrology, mythology, history and with stellar form and earthly representation. As always, the intention is to bring colour, warmth and activity to the water’s edge, inviting people out of their buildings to take a winter walk along the waterfront and appreciate the unique Toronto landscape at this time of year.’

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.

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 Ice Breakers’ installation and the events surrounding its opening.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for applications is 13 October.

Contact details

Email: info@winterstations.com

Visit the competition website for more information

Leeward Fleet case study: Q&A with Aaron Hendershott

The architect at Raw Design discusses lessons learned designing a landmark installation for last year’s Ice Breakers programme

Aaron Hendershott

Aaron Hendershott

Aaron Hendershott

How did your Leeward Fleet project help reanimate Toronto’s urban waterfront during winter?

Leeward Fleet was inspired by the iceboats that used to sail on the frozen harbour in the wintertime. Used recreationally and for racing, they were also a means of transport and getting provisions to and from the island. With this installation, we were trying to do the same thing; bringing people outdoors to experience part of the city that they might not normally see in the winter, which is quite beautiful. We also wanted to tell a story about Toronto’s history in a fun and interactive way so that the pieces will provoke discussion and allow strangers to rub elbows. The pieces themselves are intended to be ‘Icebreakers’.

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

Source: Image by Andy Barrow

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

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

The installation took cues directly from iceboat and sailing technology. The sails were repurposed from a local sailing shop and had these bright retro decals. The sails and masts were mounted on rotating platforms that were turned by the prevailing wind or by human power. As with many of our installations, we want the public to become a part of the artwork by interacting with them and animating them.

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

Source: Image by Andy Barrow

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

What advice would you have to contest participants on proposing installations for these sites and climate?

We need to consider the cold as an inevitable reality of the wintertime, and so the obvious constraints are environmental: we need to consider the presence of snow and ice, chilly winds, and the effect of freeze/thaw cycles and thermal expansion. The other challenge is to consider that visitors will interact with the artwork in unexpected ways. These pieces are out in the public realm and should use resilient materials and be built in a way that can withstand both the weather and that of enthusiastic visitors.

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

Source: Image by Andy Barrow

Leeward Fleet by Raw Design

Q&A with Carol Jolly

The executive director of Toronto Waterfront discusses her ambitions for the contest

Carol Jolly

Carol Jolly

Carol Jolly

Why are you holding a contest for the Ice Breakers installations on Toronto’s waterfront?

The Waterfront is a vibrant community year-round and just a short walk from the Downtown Core. Toronto’s waterfront in winter used to be an underused space, but following the completion of the revitalised pedestrian promenade and connection to the Martin Goodman Trail, we wanted to bring an interactive and design-centric event to the area. After witnessing the success of the Winter Stations event along Toronto’s eastern beach we decided to create a similar competition for the downtown waterfront. Now in its second year, Ice Breakers uses creative and interactive public artwork to draw people down to the lakefront and to start a conversation about the use of this space during the winter months.

Ice Breakers takes its cues from the commercial history of the Toronto harbour. The name Ice Breakers is inspired by the utilitarian ships once used in the harbour to break up frozen bodies of water, keeping commerce flowing into and out of the city. The name is also a testament to the power of design, bringing strangers together and sparking dialogue.

What is your vision for the new installations?

For Ice Breakers’ second year the theme is ‘Constellation’. This can be interpreted in various ways, but we are hoping to see work that is challenging, while also accessible, reminding the public that public art can be fun and engaging. Artists may choose to converse with the winter constellations of the northern hemisphere, playing with astrology, mythology, history and with stellar form and earthly representation.

As always, the intention is to bring colour, warmth and activity to the water’s edge, inviting people out of their buildings to take a winter walk along the Waterfront and appreciate the unique Toronto landscape at this time of year.

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

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

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

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

The competition is open to international artists and designers and we hope to attract a broad range of entries with a range of experience. Our jury deliberation is blind, so the jurors don’t know which designers worked on which submissions. We purposely set up the competition to encourage as many entries as possible, and view Ice Breakers and its sister competition Winter Stations as platforms for young designers, though we encourage established practices as well. The sort of installations that are successful are usually visually very stimulating as well as having an element of interactivity. Visitors love to engage with the artwork, taking photos, and fully experiencing every element of the exhibition. It is a great opportunity for architects and designers to get playful with their designs and really connect with people.

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

The Waterfront BIA is working to bring the Toronto Waterfront’s artistic and cultural significance to the forefront, improving the retail and restaurant environment with a unique, creative flair. Following our inaugural year, the results of our post-event survey indicated the public wanted to see even more quality installations. We’re open to leveraging partnerships that will allow us to do this. Next up after Ice Breakers is Winter Stations, the international design competition launches a month after Ice Breakers along Toronto’s eastern lakeshore beaches. Submissions are asked to incorporate one of the lifeguard stations dotted along the beach into their designs are we are getting ready to announce this year’s theme. Now in its fourth year, the concept is similar to Ice Breakers with the added element of sand water and, often extreme cold and snow.

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

Winter Stations was inspired by Winnipeg’s Warming Huts: An Art + Architecture Competition on Ice, an annual public art event that has been running since 2009.