Winter Stations 2021 opens design competition for annual outdoor art display along Woodbine Beach

Noodle Feed was a popular installation with the kids at the launch of Winter Statilons 2020 at Woodbine Beach on Family Day. It was so popular it suffered irreparable damage and had to be taken down by the end of February. Beach Metro News file photo by Donna Braybrook.

The seventh annual Winter Stations outdoor art exhibit along Woodbine Beach is on tap to take place in 2021.

The international competition for artists seeking to create one of the five or six installations planned for lifeguard stands along the beach is now open.

“As an event that takes place solely outdoors in the expanse of the beach, Winter Stations will be moving forward with the design competition portion of their annual program, in anticipation of mounting a safe, socially distant exhibition in 2021,” stated a Winter Stations press release issued on Thursday, Oct. 22.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on community events since March of this year and is already impacting numerous planned activities and gatherings for 2021 as well. However, Winter Stations is well-suited as way for people to enjoy outdoor art installations in a safe manner.

“In a year where outdoor spaces have never been more vital, Winter Stations is calling on the design community to submit their visions,” said the release.

Winter Stations was launched in 2015 by RAW Architects, Ferris + Associates and Curio as a way transform the lifeguard stands along Woodbine Beach into works of public and interactive art based on a particular theme.

“The star of Winter Stations has always the beach, and the unique winter setting it provides. We’re hopeful, with the openness of the landscape, and the distance between each lifeguard stand, that we can provide a safe outing for the people of Toronto to enjoy,” said Winter Stations founder Roland Rom Colthoff, of RAW Architects. “Now more than ever, it’s important to embrace the outdoors and seasonality of our city.”

The theme for 2021 is Refuge and it invites designers to “reflect back on the year we have left behind and consider what refuge means to each of us.”

Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford that the art installations along the beach will be especially appreciated by both residents and visitors alike this coming winter.

“After such a challenging 2020 for us all, the light and energy this event brings to the cold, dark winter months is going to be more meaningful than ever before,” he said in the Winter Stations press release.

“For years, Winter Stations has brought people together from around the world to celebrate art and community. We’re fortunate the event is so well adapted to our current reality. I’m looking forward to seeing how the incredible creative energy we’ve seen in the last several months colours this special event.”

Since its inception, Winter Stations has been an extremely popular event

During the 2020 Winter Stations exhibit, which opened in the middle of February before the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic had hit Canada, one of the interactive displays – Noodle Feed – proved so popular with people playing on it that it had to be taken down to due to irreparable damage. (See our story on this at: )

Creating displays that can stand up to the sometimes harsh winter conditions along the beach will be one of the design mandates for 2021.

However, unlike in other years, the interactive aspect of the installations in which people were encouraged to touch, climb and get close to and even in to will not be part of the 2021 competition guidelines due to COVID-19.

The competition will be asking designers for 2021 Winter Station installations to “factor in the pandemic and anticipate a more socially distant exhibition that year’s passed.”

The design brief asks: How can we evoke refuge in an exhibition that will necessitate physical distance between visitors? And how can we promote interactivity when our ability to relate with the stations may have to omit physical touch in the name of safety?”

For more information on the design competition for Winter Stations 2021, please visit

Winter Stations 2021 is sponsored by the Beach Village BIA, the Ontario Association of Architects, Urban Capital, Sali Tabaccchi Branding and Design, and Meevo Digital.

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