Say Goodbye to the Cold With a Look Back at Two of Toronto’s Winter Design Exhibits

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By Kate Nelischer / Published by Dwell
Toronto's temporary Winter Stations installations animate Lake Ontario's frozen shoreline for a third year.

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.

Say Goodbye to the Cold With a Look Back at Two of Toronto’s Winter Design Exhibits - Photo 1 of 5 - "I See You Ashiyu" installation by Asuka Kono and Rachel Salmela from Toronto.

"I See You Ashiyu" installation by Asuka Kono and Rachel Salmela from Toronto.

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. 

Say Goodbye to the Cold With a Look Back at Two of Toronto’s Winter Design Exhibits - Photo 2 of 5 - "The Beacon" installation by Joao Araujo Sousa and Joanna Correia Silva from Porto, Portugal.

"The Beacon" installation by Joao Araujo Sousa and Joanna Correia Silva from Porto, Portugal.

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.

Say Goodbye to the Cold With a Look Back at Two of Toronto’s Winter Design Exhibits - Photo 3 of 5 - "Flotsam and Jetsam" installation by a team from the University of Waterloo.

"Flotsam and Jetsam" installation by a team from the University of Waterloo.

Say Goodbye to the Cold With a Look Back at Two of Toronto’s Winter Design Exhibits - Photo 4 of 5 - "Tailored Twins" installation by Ferris + Associates installation is part of the Ice Breakers festival, located at the Peter Street Basin in Toronto.

"Tailored Twins" installation by Ferris + Associates installation is part of the Ice Breakers festival, located at the Peter Street Basin in Toronto.

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. 

Say Goodbye to the Cold With a Look Back at Two of Toronto’s Winter Design Exhibits - Photo 5 of 5 - "Leeward Fleed" installation by RAW, part of Ice Breakers, located at Canada Square in Toronto.

"Leeward Fleed" installation by RAW, part of Ice Breakers, located at Canada Square in Toronto.