Every winter, Toronto’s cold, grey waterfront gets an exciting dose of design thanks to Winter Stations. The annual competition, now in its eighth year, has architects, artists, and designers from around the world reimagine Toronto’s existing lifeguard stations, which dot Kew and Woodbine beaches at regular intervals.
Winter Stations was started in 2014 by the firms RAW Design, Ferris + Associates, and Curio. The competition has since grown in scope and scale, with entries from more than 90 countries showcasing a diverse set of both established and emerging talent. The winning renderings are then built as full-scale art installations and opened to the public as immersive exhibitions.
This year, the competition’s theme is Resilience. The winning entries on display include Enter Face, two lifeguard chairs reimagined as shadowy boxes by the Turkish firm MELT.
Wildlife Guard Chair by Mickael Minghetti and Andres Jimenez takes inspiration from the cardinals native to the shores of Lake Ontario. The Hive, by Kathleen Dogantzis and Will Cuthbert, uses the hexagonal shapes of a beehive, a nod to the collaborative nature of honey bees that huddle close together for warmth in winter.
There are also many Canadian designs among this year’s winners. A team from Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science created S’winter Station, which repurposes beach materials like towels and marine ropes for a winter shelter. Introspection, an entry from the University of Toronto John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, appears to float on the horizon thanks to its mirrored walls, which the team hopes will promote self-reflection. And One Canada, by the University of Guelph School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, is meant to symbolize bridging the gap between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
This year’s Winter Stations will be live and open to the public on Toronto’s waterfront until March 31.