Manitoba

Warming hut winners include river beast, forest village and 'swirling vortex of mystery'

Six new warming huts will enrich Winnipeg's winter landscape in 2020, adding a Muppet-like creature, a tower of snow shovels and a campsite-style village to the list of creations that have been built in the past 10 years.

Local band Royal Canoe invited guests for Manitoba 150, will perform free concert

The Droombok is a fantastic creature living along the river trail in Winnipeg, according to the description of the warming hut from France. (Noël Picaper, Onomiau (Office for Nomadic Architecture))

Six new warming huts will enrich Winnipeg's winter landscape in 2020, adding a Muppet-like creature, a tower of snow shovels and a campsite-style village to the list of creations that have been built in the past 10 years.

"The warming huts competition, which started out totally organically with the creative community right here in Winnipeg, continues to attract fantastic art and architecture to our community," said Paul Jordan, CEO of The Forks Renewal Corporation.

This year, the annual Warming Huts Art + Architecture Competition attracted 177 entries from 32 countries. Those were whittled down to three winners by a jury that had no background information on who submitted the designs or where they were from. 

The winners are from Canada (Calgary, Alta.), France (Strasbourg) and Japan (Tokyo).

The Droombok

Artist: Noël Picaper, Onomiau (Office for Nomadic Architecture)

Strasbourg, France

The Droombok is a fantastic creature living along the river trail in Winnipeg, according to the description provided in a news release.

"Thanks to its bestial outline and its scale, the structure's relation with its context, is in constant change: the sun produces a layer of moving shadows, breezes enter freely and the snow is softly reflecting the environment on its thatch fur."

Forest Village

Artist: Ashida Architect & Associates Co.

Tokyo, Japan

"Warmth comes from being together. Enjoying time with other people is something we do less and less because of the daily hectic," states the description. "Let's gather at this natural place, spend time and listen to each other. It is warm and silent inside the huts made out of straw.

"Sit together with friends, climb into the huts, meet new people. Reconnect with nature and people again."

The Forest Village warming hut from Tokyo, Japan, encourages people to reconnect and take a break from "the daily hectic." (Ashida Architect & Associates Co.)

S(hovel)

Artist: Modern Office + Sumer Singh, MTHARU/Mercedes + Singh

Calgary, Canada

"Conceived as a small shelter or hovel, S(hovel) re-imagines an everyday, off-the-shelf article of winter — the snow shovel — into a swirling vortex of mystery and intrigue that only reveals its true identity upon closer inspection and inhabitation," the description states.

Built from 194 aluminum shovels, the structure will be donated after its warming hut life to Take Pride Winnipeg's Snow Angel Program, a non-profit charity that helps seniors and the infirm with snow removal each year.

S(hovel) is built from 194 aluminum shovels that will later be donated to Take Pride Winnipeg's Snow Angel Program, a non-profit charity that helps seniors and the infirm with snow removal each year. (Modern Office + Sumer Singh, MTHARU/Mercedes + Singh)

As in past years, the judges also chose an entry from the University of Manitoba faculty of architecture. The hut, which has not yet been named and had no rendering on Friday, will be a collaboration with Winnipeg artist Eleanor Bond.

The Manitoba Building Trades, in partnership with Mistecture Architecture and Interiors, weren't part of the competition but came up with a concept that was welcomed as a special addition.

S(hovel) creates "a swirling vortex of mystery and intrigue," states the description for the warming hut from Calgary. (Modern Office + Sumer Singh, MTHARU/Mercedes + Singh)

The Stand

Inspired by the people that stood up and rejected the status quo during the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, The Stand acts as a reminder to learn from the past to ignite change in our future, the description states.

"The reflective element of the design creates a mirror effect, offering inspiration for those who enter as they face who must stand up for change. Each step through The Stand offers a different reflection of the viewer and a different perspective of the outside world."

Stand pays tribute to the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, with red benches paying homage to those whose blood was shed on Bloody Saturday. (Manitoba Building Trades, Mistecture Architecture and Interiors)

There are red seats arranged at varying heights to signify diversity and the importance of multi-generational voices, according to the description.

"The red accent colours were chosen to pay homage to those whose blood was shed on Bloody Saturday, as well as in conflicts across Canada and the globe. The back wall features a quote by Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." 

In past years, the competition also has included an invited guest artist. Past invitees include sculptor Anish Kapoor, filmmaker Guy Maddin, Inuk singer Tanya Tagaq and musician Terje Isungset — a Norwegian artist who builds instruments out of ice.

Winnipeg band Royal Canoe will perform a free outdoor show on instruments carved from blocks of ice pulled directly from the Red River. (Royal Canoe)

This year it is Winnipeg indie band Royal Canoe, which is working with architect Luca Roncoroni and Sputnik Architecture to create Glacial at The Forks. That will include a free outdoor show on the river at The Forks on Jan. 31.

"Since it's too cold to play guitars or drums, we'll be using a combination of instruments and triggers carved from blocks of ice pulled directly from the Red River to present completely re-imagined versions of our material," the band states in its description.

"There will be ice drums and percussion, an ice sample kit/light machine, some pitched ice instruments and an ice horn, in addition to our usual keyboards and synthetic textures. Our intention is for the tone and mood of the performance to compliment the stark yet fierce environment on the river in winter."

River trail uncertain

Construction of the huts will start in early January and be available for viewing and experiencing a couple of weeks later.

Just where they will go this year is still up in the air.

Typically, the huts are set up beside the skating and walking trails cleared along the Red and Assiniboine rivers, but it is unclear whether the trails will go ahead this winter.

The water levels were unusually high in the fall as the rivers began to freeze over. That has created concerns about hollows between the frozen surface and where the river level has receded to since then. As well, frazil ice —  a slushy-like mix of crystals — has contributed to the trail's questionable feasibility.

Regardless of whether the trails are made, the warming huts will be on display. If they can't go down to the rivers, they will be placed around The Forks site along with a collection of winners from past years.

Four previous huts are also on display around the Manitoba Legislature grounds in celebration of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the province.

That milestone also is being recognized in a renaming of the as-yet-uncertain river trail as the MB150 River Trail.

Images from the past decade of warming huts can be seen in a gallery on the competition's website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darren Bernhardt

Reporter/Editor

Darren Bernhardt spent the first dozen years of his journalism career in newspapers, first at the Regina Leader-Post then the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He has been with CBC Manitoba since 2009 and specializes in offbeat and local history stories and features. He is the author of award-nominated and bestselling The Lesser Known: A History of Oddities from the Heart of the Continent. Story idea? Email: darren.bernhardt@cbc.ca

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