Winter in Toronto is tough. Months of gray skies, frigid temperatures, and snowy sidewalks can deter both locals and visitors from exploring all the city has to offer. The waterfront can seem particularly unattractive, as punishing winds swirl off Lake Ontario. But for the past three years, Torontonians have been coaxed out into the cold to explore the annual Winter Stations exhibit that just ended last week.
Founded in 2015 by local architecture and design firms RAW Design, Ferris + Associates, and Curio, the Winter Stations Design Competition invites applicants to propose temporary transformations of the lifeguard stations that dot Toronto's eastern beach. Modeled after a similar art installation program in Winnipeg, Winter Stations draws submissions from Toronto and abroad and features work from both students and established professionals.
This year's theme was Catalyst, and applicants were encouraged to think of their proposals as catalysts for change. The successful submissions included a modern take on a traditional Japanese onsen, an inverted forest of fir trees, an interactive wall of messages in bottles, and a reinterpretation of a traditional lighthouse—among others. The installations were on display until March 27.
2017 saw the expansion of the program through a partnership with The Waterfront Business Improvement Association. Ice Breakers was a similar exhibit of temporary art installations along Toronto's central downtown waterfront. The program ran from January to February and featured five installations in various parks and public spaces.