A 'Pussy Hut,' obstacle panels, noisebox, pinwheel tower among Winter Stations this year

A jury has chosen the winning designs for the Winter Stations International Design Competition, an annual event now in its fourth year that will take shape next month on the beaches in Toronto's east end.

Theme of event on Toronto's east end beaches is RIOT, as in 'a riot of colour, form and material'

'Pussy Hut' by Martin Miller and Mo Zheng of the U.S. This installation, inspired by the Women's March on Washington, recreates the knitted symbol that captured the spirit of the protests on Jan. 21, 2017. The design is 'a reminder to wear your hat, stand up for what’s right, and stay warm.' (Winter Stations International Design Competition)

One features a bright pink Pussy hat. Another has red rectangular columns that rotate. A third is a large noise box with yellow and black zigzag lines. And a fourth is made up of white pinwheels in the shape of a nuclear cooling tower.

A jury has chosen the winning designs for the Winter Stations International Design Competition, an annual event now in its fourth year that will take shape next month on the beaches in Toronto's east end. 

The winning designs will turn into installations at lifeguard stations from Feb. 19, Family Day, until April 1. The installations will be located south of Queen Street East, between Woodbine and Victoria Park Avenues, roughly from Woodbine Beach to the Leuty Lifeguard Station.

This year's theme is RIOT, according to Lisa Rochon, Winter Stations design jury chair. 
'Obstacle' by Kien Pham of the United Kingdom. Obstacle is a metaphor for overcoming the problems in the world. The installation may seem like an 'impenetrable barrier' at first, but then, the columns rotate, allowing visitors to enter. 'In order to confront the obstacle, visitors have to work together, rotating the columns in sequence to overcome the adversity.' (Winter Stations International Design Competition)

Rochon described the winning submissions as "big, bold and audacious." The six-person jury considered about 270 submissions by artists, architects and designers from around the world. The winning submissions are from Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and the U.S.

Each celebrates Toronto's winter waterfront landscape and aims to draw people outside to see, touch and interact with the installations themselves. 

"The theme was chosen by the organizing team to reflect the political upheaval of the past year," she said.

Public art is not "merely" about creating pretty artwork but is designed to imitate life, she added.

And this year, the installations will reflect ongoing global uncertainty, "acting out and actively resisting through a riot of colour, form and material," according to a news release from the competition, a non-profit organization.
'Make Some Noise!!!' by Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid of Germany. Italian Futurism is coming to Toronto this year with this over-sized noisebox, based on Luigi Rusollo’s 'intonarumori,' a group of musical instruments that caused an uproar when he introduced it in the Milan Opera House in 1914. (Winter Stations International Design Competition)

Three student installations from the University of Guelph, OCAD University and Ryerson University will complement the winning designs on the beaches.

For example, the Pussy Hut, designed by Martin Miller and Mo Zheng of the U.S., makes a statement about the inequality of women and zero tolerance for sexual harassment, she said. 

"It's a colourful installation that recognizes the Women's March on Washington. It has a jumbo pink Pussy Hat knitted in large pieces. What's fantastic about this installation is that it presents a beacon of hope. It provides shelter," she said.

Roland Rom Colthoff, director of RAW Design and Winter Stations co-founder, said in the release that the installations are decidedly political this year.

"It was important for us to allow the competition to evolve and reflect the global events of the past twelve months," Colthoff said. 
'Wind Station' by Paul van den Berg and Joyce de Grauw of the Netherlands. This installation is a call for nuclear phase-out. It brings together hundreds of tiny pinwheels in the shape of a nuclear cooling tower. It is meant to symbolize renewable wind energy. (Winter Stations International Design Competition)

"At the same time, the installations couldn't stray too far from the main motive of Winter Stations, which is to bring joy, warmth and conversation to the long, cold Canadian winter landscape." 

The competition began as a way of using design to prompt Toronto residents to visit the beach in winter.

It now includes a "sister" exhibition, Ice Breakers, presented with the help of Toronto's Waterfront BIA. Ice Breakers, now in its second year, runs from Jan. 19 to Feb. 25 along Queen's Quay in downtown Toronto.

Sponsors of the Winter Stations include City of Toronto Parks and Recreation and Ontario Association of Architects.

Anex Works will build the four winning installations, while student teams will build their own installations. 

The competition, run by a non-profit organization, was founded by RAW Design, Ferris + Associates, and Curio.
'Revolution,' by OCAD University in Toronto, is composed of 36 vertical modules of different height, enabling visitors to express their opinions through the air. As people project voices into the horns, they also amplify the conviction of their words. (Winter Stations International Design Competition)
'Rising Up,' by the University of Guelph School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, is Inspired by the topography of Toronto's Don Valley. It invites visitors to experience nature's uprising against increasing urbanization. (Winter Stations International Design Competition)
'NEST,' by Ryerson University, is an installation that embodies ideas of comfort within a system of disorder and complexity. The structure is composed of modular cells that contain a weave of colourful webs, providing both shelter and playful moments of light and shadow within the space. (Winter Stations International Design Competition)