Guy Maddin 'ludicrously honoured' to have designed Winnipeg warming hut

A warming hut designed by filmmaker Guy Maddin will be among those lining the river skating trail in Winnipeg this winter.

Filmmaker's favourite season is winter and he is sad whenever it melts it into 'stupid puddles of spring'

Winnipeg-born filmmaker Guy Maddin designed Temple of Lost Things, a warming hut that will provide stylish shelter for users of The Forks' skating trail on the Red River in Winnipeg.

A warming hut designed by Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin will be among those lining The Forks' Red River skating trail in Winnipeg this winter.

The Winnipeg-born Maddin's piece holds as much mystery as its name: Temple of Lost Things.

According to the description from The Forks, the design features several "memory" pillars made of ice, supporting a mesh screen where projection art and performance can take place. It will be surrounded by sculpted ice benches and located under the spans of the Norwood Bridge.

Guy Maddin's design features several 'memory' pillars made of ice, supporting a mesh screen where projection art and performance can take place. It will be surrounded by many sculpted ice benches. (The Forks Renewal Corporation)

"I'm ludicrously honoured by the invitation to create a structure for this incredible annual event. In the international world of design, The Forks' warming hut competition has made our city the world capital of winter — it took me two seconds to say yes," Maddin said in a press release from The Forks.

The annual open competition to design huts for skaters and other users of the river trail attracted a record number of submissions — nearly 180 — from local, national and international artists and architecture groups, according to Paul Jordan, CEO of The Forks Renewal Corporation.

Maddin, currently a visiting lecturer at Harvard University, is this year's invited guest designer.

"We can't think of anything more Winnipeg or more creative than Guy Maddin," Jordan said.

The Golden Bison combines the official animal of the province and the glitter of the Golden Boy, and includes an opening at the bottom to allow people to climb inside. (The Forks Renewal Corporation)

Maddin, a self-professed lover of winter, explained Temple of Lost Things as representing "the accrual of memories over the history of each winter," while the eventual melting of the pillars in spring will mimic forgetting.

"Winter is by far my favourite season, and I've always been saddened when its brief history of frosty activities is melted into the dark, stupid puddles of spring," he said.

"Winter is a season of great, beautiful accumulation, an abundant stockpile as if of memories. And every spring comes the big amnesia. We aren't always thinking of this sad cycle, but occasionally, when we seek comfort, uncomfortable thoughts visit and sit next to us on the ice bench."

All submissions in the open competition were reviewed by a "blind" jury, meaning they had no background information on who submitted the designs. The jury, consisting of experts in both the arts and architecture worlds, chose three winning hut designs.

Golden Bison

David Alberto Arroyo Tafolla 
Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico

This hut takes the form of the bison, the official animal of the province of Manitoba, and incorporates the glitter of the Golden Boy atop the Manitoba Legislative Building.

An opening in the bottom of the bison hut allows people to climb four steps and go inside, where the walls contain information about the region.

Skylights in the ceiling allow the natural lighting of the space, which accommodates up to seven adults.

The Golden Bison stands 11 feet high with an opening that allows people to stand inside. (The Forks Renewal Corporation)


Architecture Office b210
Tallinn, Estonia

The Totem provides to a four-metre-high view on Winnipeg's river trail. (The Forks Renewal Corporation)

The two Totem huts provide a unique experience as users climb a tower that is as narrow as the person themselves, states the description of the four-metre-high structures.

"Totems placed as welcome gates create an abstract space. The aura in between them [links] the two together spiritually," The Forks' release said.

"The border of space defined by volumes of totems becomes the catalyst for interaction — individuals meet with a glance from up above."

The Trunk

Camille Bianchi and Ryder Thalheimer
Vancouver, B.C.

According to the artist statement, The Trunk is an inhabitable tree, constructed of layers of laminated wood, each cut in the shape of a single growth ring. By layering the rings, a record of change and time are revealed vertically, seemingly infinite toward the sky.

The Trunk is an inhabitable tree, constructed of layers of laminated wood, each cut in the shape of a single growth ring. (The Forks Renewal Corporation)

"The community that gathers at The Forks every winter is born of the same cycles that get recorded as growth rings in our trees. Its height and heaviness is striking against the flat landscape of the frozen river while its interior is warm and inviting. Visitors are invited to slip inside to take refuge from the cold and share a quiet talk with a friend."

The call for warming hut submissions is put out by the Manitoba Association of Architects (MAA), as well as through the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the American Institute of Architecture and other prominent architectural websites.

"While these structures provide shelter from Manitoba's harsh winter elements, they also adorn the Red River Mutual Trail with beautiful works of art," said MAA president Marty Kuilman.

"It's the perfect blend of creativity and practicality that adds value to all those visiting the river trail each year, which is why the MAA continues to be a proud supporter." 

Construction of the huts will begin in early January and, weather permitting, the completed designs will be moved onto the river trail in the last week of that month.

In addition to the new ones, several favourite huts from previous years will be brought back out.

Also returning to the frozen river this year is RAW:almond, the high-end on-ice restaurant. Tickets go on sale Dec. 10.

This year's warming huts on Winnipeg's river trail include a piece by filmmaker Guy Maddin, who says he loves the winter 0:38