Winners of the 2015 Winnipeg Warming Huts competition revealed

For the 2015 submissions to the Winnipeg Warming Huts competition, entries either fell into a Shelter or Installation category. More than 100 submissions from around the globe were reviewed by a “blind” jury, who judged the projects with no knowledge of the designers or their location.

Three winners were selected: The Hole Idea by Weiss Architecture & Urbanism Limited from Toronto, and Recycling Words by Montreal’s KANVA. The installation This Big by Tina Soil & Luca Roncoroni from Droebak Akershus in Norway, a team that also won the Warming Huts competition in 2013 for their entry entitled Wind Catcher.

The portable hole – first developed by Professor Calvin Q. Calculus in the 1955 Looney Tunes animation feature The Hole Thing and later sold by the Acme Company – has a troubled history. Almost right from inception, the ominous mobile void was put to use for evil purposes – first as an effective enabler for a vicious crime spree and later as a means to capture the American desert fowl Geococcyx californianus, or as it is commonly known, “the Roadrunner.” The Hole Idea proposal takes as a starting point the portable hole, and by utilizing modern paint technologies, adds colour. The resultant 1’-6” diameter holes – which can be located anywhere along the snowy banks of the Assiniboine or Red River – are resistant to being co-opted by evil forces (including the greyness of soul-sucking foul weather) due to the sheer cheeriness of the palette of introduced colour. Further, a large bright-yellow 10-foot-diameter hole is horizontally located in a 35-foot-long snow drift and provides skaters a warm and sheltering burrow in the snowy river bank. Since they have an inside and outside, the holes also furnish the shelter with an abundance of light and sky views.

Recycling Words is an interactive art installation that assembles everyday objects and words to create a playful river narrative. Drawing reference to the physical and vocal exchanges that historically flocked the Red and Assiniboine Rivers on canoe, Recycling Words offers a new cultural and social means of gathering along the Red River Mutual Trail. The installation is composed of 50 recycled chairs and 50 pairs of recycled skiis that are fastened together using metal connectors. Each unit is painted neon-pink and stencilled with a unique word along its back. Diffused across the length of the Red River Mutual Trail, Recycling Words creates a visual explosion and recognizable marker for the various access points of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. The chair-ski combo invites the user to push, pull, sit or glide in tandem or solo, while also setting into motion other chair activities such as musical chairs, or learning how to skate. The 50 words assigned to each chair will be mindfully selected by a local art historian to enable users to physically construct improvised phrases or reconstruct narratives or memories of Winnipeg based on the infamous fridge magnet game. Using words and materials of the place, Recycling Words offers a sustainable art installation that allows users to reconstruct old stories and make new memories along Winnipeg’s Red River Mutual Trail this winter.

Eric drills a small hole in the ice. He unfolds his chair and sits down. He pours a cup of hot coffee, and he sinks a bait in the deep, dark water. He waits. He drinks some more coffee. He waits. Finally, Eric gets a fish so big that it doesn’t make it through the hole. He cuts the line and he goes home with a story to tell…“It was this big!” The story is a good one, the fish gets bigger by the day, and the myth grows. Somebody is impressed, somebody is curious, somebody is laughing. But one day the fish wants to tell the story itself, the fish wants its 15 minutes of fame…that day is today. No more storytelling. No more myth. This Big is the connection between two worlds: under and over the ice. We could say it is a “semantic installation” or a “social anthropological statement,” but it is actually an ice sculpture, a big toy.

The Hybrid Hut by Rojkind Arquitectos of Mexico was chosen by invitation, and creates new hybrids through computer-aided design and traditional craftsmanship. With the evolution of technology in the industry, it puts into question the participation of artisans in the construction of the design space to the extent that the trades are disappearing. What is the use of contemporary technology if it can’t learn to grow with the processes already acquired by artisans and traditions? And how can an accomplished craftsman learn new process through technology? What is the role of the architect that has access to both scopes?

Three Warming Hut additions were also selected: Mirror Cloaking by University of Manitoba students; RAW:almond, from Winnipeg; and 6043, designed and constructed by students of Kelvin High School in Winnipeg.

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