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Competition: Toronto Winter Stations 2019

An international design competition has been launched for a series of $15,000 CAD temporary winter installations on Toronto’s beaches (Deadline: 4 November)

Open to artists, designers, architects and landscape architects, the fifth annual ‘Winter Stations’ contest seeks proposals for themed temporary structures to entice visitors to the area during winter.

Up to six winning designs will be displayed to the public between 18 February and 1 April 2019 on Woodbine Beach at the western end of Toronto’s beaches district overlooking Lake Ontario. Winning schemes will be attached to existing lifeguard stands on the beaches and will be expected to withstand harsh weather and potential night-time vandalism.

2018 winner: Make Some Noise!!! by Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid

2018 winner: Make Some Noise!!! by Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid

2018 winner: Make Some Noise!!! by Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid

According to the brief: ‘The Winter Stations 2019 theme is Migration. Human migration has lead to the development of civilizations and their cultures, reflected in historical narratives and traditions passed on through generations as cultural landscapes shift and evolve.

‘What is migration? Who migrates? Where do they migrate? Migration is carried out by other animal species, including our own Canadian Geese, seeking out ideal habitats. Non-creatures also migrate: sand and water, thoughts, trends, music, film and fashion.’

Stretching from Victoria Park Avenue to Coxwell Avenue, the beach district bordering Lake Ontario is popular with tourists, swimmers and volleyball players during the summer months but is less busy when cold weather arrives.

The structures, which must be able to withstand the rigours of the Canadian winter, will be fastened to existing metal lifeguard stands which are evenly spaced along the waterfronts.

Proposals may be any size but must be feasible within the $15,000 CAD construction budget which covers $5,000 CAD for materials, and $10,000 CAD for labour including any taxes.

2018 winner: Pussy Hut by Martin Miller and Mo Zheng

2018 winner: Pussy Hut by Martin Miller and Mo Zheng

2018 winner: Pussy Hut by Martin Miller and Mo Zheng

Previous winners include Obstacle by UK-based Kien Pham, The Beacon by Portuguese practice João Araújo Sousa & Joana Correia Silva Arquitectura, Driftwood Throne by London’s DM_Studio, and Sauna Ice Bath by FFLO.

Participants should consider whether their installation could be relocated or its materials repurposed and recycled after the programme finishes. Anonymous applications should include two A4 sides featuring concept designs along with a 150-word explanation and additional documents detailing the team’s background and relevant design experience.

The winning teams – set to be announced on 17 December – will each be assigned a project manager and local construction crew by the competition organisers RAW Architects, Ferris + Associates and Curio.

A $3,500 honorarium and a $1,500 travel and accommodation bursary will also be available to selected winning teams.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 4 November

Contact details

Email: info@winterstations.com

Visit the competition website for more information

Obstacle case study: Q&A with Kien Pham

The London-based architectural designer discusses lessons learned designing one of last year’s competition-winning schemes

Kien Pham

Kien Pham

Kien Pham

How did your contest-winning scheme help reactivate Toronto’s beaches district during winter?

The theme of the competition last year was ‘Riot’, which was a timely response to what had been happening around the world. The installation Obstacles was designed as a hostile environment, but its own attributes encouraged human interactions between the visitors, and perhaps helped them find the positivities in others. For many in Toronto, the competition has been an annual excursion to the beaches to enjoy curious and exciting public arts - so I think it was important to not only try to communicate the concept, but also to create a setting where people, friends or strangers, could have an enjoyable time together.

2018 winner: Obstacle by Kien Pham

2018 winner: Obstacle by Kien Pham

Source: Image by Khristel Stecher

2018 winner: Obstacle by Kien Pham

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

The 48 cross-shaped columns which made up the installation were laid out on a grid (the lifeguard station sitting in the middle is the 49th node) to represent problems that anyone might have to encounter in everyday life. From the outside, the installation was an intimidating red monolith, a solid Obstacle. But if the visitors came closer to challenge it, they would find the columns actually rotate to allow them through. I think making the columns rotate was an important moment in the design, it allowed physical interactions not only with the installation, but also among visitors.

Obstacle by Kien Pham

Obstacle by Kien Pham

Source: Image by Khristel Stecher

Obstacle by Kien Pham

Each person’s movement through the Obstacle impacted on the columns’ rotation, which in turn hindered or helped others’ progress; so people had to be mindful towards each other - that worked with the message I wanted to communicate: people could overcome any problem together with a bit of consideration and compassion. Practically, having the main parts of the installations movable was a technical challenge, resulted in the columns having to hang off an overhead grid instead of sitting on the frozen sand, which floated the whole Obstacle off the ground and made it visually more abstract. The rotating columns also influenced the decision of a fabric cladding to somewhat lessen the impact should one hit someone in the face.

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing installations for Winter Stations?

Obviously a clear response to the brief is essential; and since the site conditions are very specific, it would be better to incorporate them into the design sooner than later. A final advice is to just have fun. Your installations, even when the subject you are trying to convey is serious, in the end are public arts that a lot of people, families with children would visit and enjoy, so it would be great if you can deliver your idea in an engaging and exciting way.

2018 winner: Obstacle by Kien Pham

2018 winner: Obstacle by Kien Pham

Source: Image by Khristel Stecher

2018 winner: Obstacle by Kien Pham