New warming huts promise to heat up Red River skating trail

Six new warming huts are beginning to take shape at The Forks in Winnipeg as they move from concept to reality over the next week.

This year's warming hut competition winners boast beach-like vibes, sauna experience on the ice in Winnipeg

Warmhut, a design by U of M architecture students, will bring a sauna-inspired experience onto the ice. The cedar-lined hut has a stove inside that burns cattail pellets instead of wood. (Ryan Cheal/CBC)

Six new warming huts are beginning to take shape at The Forks in Winnipeg as they move from concept to reality over the next week.

Designers and architects from around the world were busy sawing and chipping away at their creations on Friday. They hope to have the huts finished and moved to their locations on the Red River Mutual Trail in a week, along with 14 other warming huts from past years.

Warming huts on the Red River skating trail

7 years ago
Duration 0:58
Six new warming huts are beginning to take shape at The Forks in Winnipeg as they move from concept to reality over the next week.

The Warming Huts Art + Architecture Competition has run for seven years. The 2017 winners were announced in November, chosen from nearly 100 entries from around the world.

Three hut designs were chosen by a jury from the international competition. The winners are from Nova Scotia, Chicago, and the Netherlands. A fourth hut was designed by world-renowned sculptor and artist Anish Kapoor.

Two other designs were submitted by University of Manitoba faculty of architecture students and high school students at Nelson McIntyre Collegiate.
Visitors at The Forks got a sneak peak inside the sauna-inspired Warmhut on Friday. The warming hut even has a spot to hang your coat so you can kick back and relax in heated luxury. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

This year's U of M entry took the concept of a warming hut most literally by incorporating actual heat. Their Warmhut design attempts to bring the feeling of a sauna out onto the ice.

"There's never been a warm sauna out here," said U of M student Dylan Hewlett. "There's never been a warm hut. They are called warm huts, they are warming huts, and they are always cold. That's ridiculous." 

The cedar plank-covered hut features a stove that is fuelled by pellets made from cattails, which they say is more eco-friendly and sustainable than burning wood.
Brad McCauley and his team bring beach vibes to their snow globe-inspired design, called Greetings From Bubble Beach. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Another hut, called Greetings From Bubble Beach, takes inspiration from a snow globe but is filled with sun and sand.

"We brought the beach inside so people can see it when they are going down the frozen river. We thought it hopefully will warm them up a little bit," said Brad McCauley of Chicago's Site Design Group.

"We're going for kitschy. So you'll see palm trees and pink flamingoes and beach chairs and seashells and some kind of makeshift sand, stuff that won't melt the ice but will still look like the beach," he said.

Open Border is a design that offers warm thoughts as opposed to warm hands. The concept has some political overtones in that it's a wall built across the river, completely dividing the river trail. But this border lets people pass freely as skaters make their way through strips of brightly coloured plastic.
Open Border lets skaters pass through a giant wall of brightly coloured plastic strands. You can move from side to side, or hang out in between to warm up. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Stackhouse is designed by sculptor Anish Kapoor. It's constructed by giant slabs of ice cut from the Red River. Luca Roncoroni, an ice-sculptor and architect, is helping build the massive ice hut.

Roncoroni says each slab weighs about 300 kilograms and the crew has to use specially designed tools and a hoist to get the slabs in place.
Stackhouse was designed by world-renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor. The hut is constructed out of giant slabs of ice cut from the Red River. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

On The Rails is a submission from Nelson McIntyre Collegiate student Sean Kohil, who combines his passion for trains and architecture to form a railcar experience.

The river trail is ready for skating and is open from The Forks to the Osborne Street bridge.
On The Rails was designed by Sean Kohil, a high school student at Nelson McIntyre Collegiate. Kohil has a passion for trains and architecture and combined them to create this warming hut. (Holly Caruk/CBC)