The Forks unveils 2016 Winnipeg warming hut design winners

The designs of six new warming huts that will hit the ice this winter on the river trail in Winnipeg were unveiled at The Forks on Thursday.

6 new structures set to hit river ice trail this winter

The designs of six new warming huts that will hit the ice this winter on the river trail in Winnipeg were unveiled at The Forks on Thursday.

A blind jury selected three designs from the annual international art and architecture competition — two American creations and one from Russia.

In an effort to have greater emphasis on art than in previous years, The Forks invited artist and throat singer Tanya Tagaq to design an installation. Her design, created in partnership with Sputnik Architecture, features four storytelling shelters built of snow.

Students and faculty from the University of Manitoba architecture program designed two huts.

The six new huts will be added to huts from previous years that are still in good condition, which means there could be as many as 25 huts on the river trail this year. Combine that with the pop-up restaurant and art installations, and it's a one-of-a-kind experience, Forks officials say.

"It's going to be a totally unique experience. The world is starting to catch on to this, and this is why we are getting so many applications to build a hut. Now people are actually coming to skate this trail because it's cool," said Paul Jordan, CEO of The Forks Renewal Corp.

The pop-up restaurant ran a separate design competition in August. Local design group Et Cetera Projects won with what's described as a cinematic experience restaurant that will be shaped to curve along with the riverbank. 

Water levels are good right now, Forks staff said, and with a little cold weather, they are hoping for ideal river conditions for this year's trail. Construction of the huts will start in January.

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