You've got to participate and you've got to make the most of a chance to build a hut on a frozen river.
—Colin Grover, designer
It may be icy cold outside, but Winnipeggers will have new places to warm up along The River Trail at The Forks.
Five new warming huts are in the final stages of construction. Three of them were chosen from an open competition process. The winning designs come from New York, New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts and -- wait for it -- Winnipeg.
Another hut was chosen from a University of Manitoba competition and the fifth will be constructed by the invited architects from Atelier Big City in Montreal.
Colin Grover and his Winnipeg team are busy completing the vibrantly coloured Hygge House. Theirs is the first local team to be chosen as part of the open competition. "This was a really big deal for us," says Grover.
Their design is modelled after a typical wilderness cabin complete with wood stove and rocking chair, except that it's fluorescent yellow. "If you're a designer and you live in Winnipeg, the chance to express yourself in a way that all the winter trail skaters can enjoy is an opportunity that's too good to pass up," says Grover. "You've got to participate and you've got to make the most of a chance to build a hut on a frozen river."
Grover agrees that this says a lot about Winnipeg -- that despite the frigid temperatures, we're still willing to bring art down to the river. "Winnipeggers are a hardy bunch," he says. "And we also appreciate nature and the chance to get outdoors."
"Winter can be a little bit long. It takes a little inner fortitude to get through it sometimes. This is a thing that can make it super fun to be outside."
The five huts will join eight huts from previous years and there will also be a musical art installation piece, Sonus Loci, presented by Stantec.
The much anticipated pop-up restaurant Raw: Almond is also set to open its flaps to eager, warmly-dressed diners.