Five of the lifeguard stands along the east end of the beach will be almost unrecognizable by Family Day.
This year marked the first Winter Stations contest, in which architects, designers, and artists worldwide were invited to submit design concepts for making over the dormant beach structures, as a way to celebrate winter and create public art. The theme for the inaugural competition is ‘warmth.’
The idea was very much inspired by a similar competition in Winnipeg, which Roland Rom Colthoff of Toronto firm RAW Design won last winter. He met with colleague Ted Merrick of Ferris + Associates, who regularly walks his dog on the beach, and an idea was born – or, more accurately, liberally borrowed, with Winnipeg organizer Peter Hargraves’ blessing.
“We called him and said, ‘Hey, can we steal all of your ideas?’” said Merrick.
Colthoff and Merrick brought art consultant Justin Ridgeway of Curio on board and the three starting organizing Winter Stations. While the process was put together quickly, Merrick said the outcome couldn’t have been better.
“We set up a website really quickly, we announced the thing really quickly, we gave the entrants hardly any time to do their submissions, and there were 200 entries from all over the world, and the calibre was amazing,” he said. “In the main they were extraordinarily well thought-out entries. It surprised the hell out of me.”
Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who helped pave the way for Winter Stations and was on the judging panel, was equally impressed with both the number and quality of the entries.
“We had to whittle it down from 200 to four, which was hard to do, but we had a lot of fun,” she said.
Four stations were chosen from the pool of international entries.
‘Sling Swing’ by UK-based WMB Studio is inspired by a simple deck chair, but expands the idea to include multiple seats in a large-scale hanging chair for multiple people.
‘Driftwood Throne’ by DM_Studio of London, UK reclaims wood to provide sheltered seating in a vaguely pyramidical wooden sculpture.
New Hampshire-based Tim Olson designed ‘Wing Back,’ a tall, curved wall creating shelter from the wind and a focus on a central fire pit.
Michaela MacLeod and Nicholas Croft from Toronto used a northern ice house as inspiration for their ‘Hot Box’ concept.
Along with the four finalists chosen from submissions will be a fifth installation, created by Ryerson engineering and architectural science students. Diana Koncan and Lily Jeon’s ‘Snowcone’ is a combination of a pinecone’s form and an igloo’s ancient technology.
McMahon is hoping Winter Stations will offer a reason for both locals and others from the rest of the city to experience the beach during a time of year when it’s usually left to dog walkers and only the hardiest of joggers.
“We’re happy to bring people back down and add some vibe for the locals and for the city,” she said.
All five installations are to be built over the Family Day weekend, with a debut walking tour starting out from the Kew Beach pavilion on Monday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. The tour will be led by Beach resident, parks advocate, and Globe and Mail architecture critic Lisa Rochon. The installations will stay up until March 20.