Mini Structures Are the Winter Equivalent of the Lifeguard Station

Five creative warming huts on Lake Ontario ignore the cold to celebrate scenic beauty and public space.

While it's booming and busy in the summer, Toronto's lakefront, like much of the public space in northern cities, is underappreciated during colder months. Architect Roland Rom Colthoff of RAW Design had seen how design competitions in Canadian cities such as Winnipeg and Montreal spurred architects to add to the winter landscape, so when a friend started talking about the abandoned life guard stations he spotted near Lake Ontario while walking his dog, Colthoff was inspired. Along with Ted Merrick (Ferris + Associates) and Justin Ridgeway (Curio), Colthoff created Winter Stations, a contest to create temporary installations along a beach community on Lake Ontario to encourage exploration and engagement with the lakefront. The call for submissions last September brought in 200 ideas from 36 countries worldwide; five winning entries recieved $15,000 to realize their concepts, which went up in January and will remain until March 28, 2015. "They’ve been incredibly popular and local residents want to make one a permanent installation, but we want to keep them temporary and make it about discovery," says Colthoff. "The city has 34 life guard stations facing Lake Ontatio. We're already planning for next year."

Sling Swing: WMB Studio (London and Liverpool UK)The cold can switch on survival mode in even the most rugged. This playful spin on the summer deck chair references warmer months, but arranges seats in a tight grid, allowing visitors to huddle for warmth.


Wing Back: Tim Olson (Walpole, New Hampshire) A curved crescent of wood, inspired by the profile of a wing back chair, surrounds a fire pit, creating a stylish warming hut for breaks from long walks in the snow-covered landscape.

Snowcone: Lily Jeon and Diana Koncan (Ryerson University, Toronto)A welcome burst of color against the white landscape, this geodesic, kaleidoscopic take on the warming hut was inspired by the natural shape of a pinecone and the insulating properties of an igloo.

Driftwood Throne: DM_Studio (London)Standing like a sentry on the beach, this angular sculpture assembled from reused timber hides a small bench below a raised viewing platform.

HotBox: Michaela MacLeod and Nicholas Croft (Toronto)A mysterious monolith on the landscape, this warming hut, a cubic room wrapped in rubber and egg shell crate foam, provides a space for socialization.


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