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Winter Stations 2021 announces winning designs

The winning designs for the seventh annual Winter Stations in Toronto’s east end Beach district have been revealed alongside new partnerships with The Distillery District and Beach BIA.

With plans for the annual winter art show impacted by provincial lockdowns, these partnerships, along with sponsorships from the Ontario Association of Architects, Minto Communities, MicroPro Sienna, Context Development, RioCan, Urban Capital, Demirov Group, Parallax, Westdale Properties, Bousfields, kg&a, Sali Tabacchi Branding & Design and Meevo Digital will ensure the stations will be exhibited in 2021 once lockdown restrictions are lifted. For now, there is no exhibit timetable as Winter Stations is working with local officials on when to proceed.

Founded by RAW Design, Ferris + Associates, and Curio, Winter Stations was conceived as a way of using design to inspire Torontonians to visit the beach in the winter. This year, four designs were selected by the jury, from a record-breaking 400+ submissions from around the world.

Winning installations responded to the theme of refuge, which invited designers to reflect on the ongoing pandemic and consider what refuge means to each of us: a shelter, a place of comfort and security, a sanctuary. The design brief also asked designers to anticipate a more socially distant exhibition than in past years.

The winning submissions are joined annually by a higher education partner, and in 2021, one student installation from Sheridan College will be displayed alongside the winning designs.

“We recognize this year, more than ever, we need to be flexible in how we operate. Partnering with The Distillery District and the Beach BIA allows us to extend our exhibition by several weeks, while also giving Torontonians a chance to experience the installations in different settings,” says Roland Rom Colthoff, founder of RAW Design. “We continue to work with city officials on our plan for the exhibit, being mindful of the acute need for safety. Our plans and contingencies are in place and we are committed to launching the installations sometime this year. If that means postponing our event until restrictions ease, we might need to call them ‘Spring’ Stations, and bring safe, outdoor experiences to our city.”

While historically installations are temporarily constructed around the Woodbine Beach area, one of the new partnerships will see three winning installations debut at The Distillery District before relocating to the beach. An extended exhibit calendar of events will be announced in consultation with city officials, and could see the stations debut in the Spring or later.

“We are excited to partner with an event that shines a light on local and international artists and brings attention to the city’s beautiful winter beaches. And we’re equally excited to bring three installations here to The Distillery District, and help expose these exciting art pieces to new audiences,” said Elena Price, General Manager, The Distillery Historic District. “The Distillery District is an internationally acclaimed village of one-of-a-kind stores, shops, galleries, studios, restaurants, cafes, theatres and more. The iconic location boasts a rich heritage of art, culture and entertainment. This partnership with Winter Stations is a natural fit given our history of success with public art exhibitions and we’re thrilled that our new partnership will help ensure an exhibition in 2021.”

In addition to the partnership with the Distillery District, the Beach BIA, with assistance from ArtworxTO, will also fund a station that will be exhibited at Kew Gardens. A long time supporter of the exhibition, the BIA hopes this new partnership will draw more Winter Stations visitors up to Queen Street East to support local businesses.

“The BIA is excited to help bring Winter Stations up to Queen Street for the first time, shining a brighter spotlight on our amazing neighbourhood, including the business community. The installation in Kew provides a great opportunity for visitors to explore our main street, in addition to the Beach. We look forward to welcoming everyone to safely enjoy Winter Stations in the Beach in 2021,” said Anna Sebert, Executive Director, Beach Village BIA.

“After such a challenging 2020, these designs show the light and energy that Winter Stations generates. While the plans for 2021 are more tentative, the record number of entries and broad interest is a testament to the dedication of everyone involved in the initiative and the community of artists from around the world who contribute each year.  For years, Winter Stations has brought people together from around the world to celebrate art and community. The City is working closely in partnership and support to adapt this special event to the realities of COVID. I’m hopeful those realities will improve to allow this wonderful tradition to continue,” said Brad Bradford, Toronto City Councillor, Ward 19 Beaches-East York.

The 2021 Winter Stations winners are: ARc de Blob by Aleksandra Belitskaja, Ben James and Shaun McCallum, Austria/UK
ARc de Blob is a colorful landmark in the Woodbine Beach landscape: a point of orientation, interaction and refuge. This architectural object creatively mixes physical materials with the ability to digitally interact and connect through a Mixed Reality App. The installation creates incredible virtual worlds – a figurative refuge where we can interact, connect and play. The physical form references iconic architectural composition and elements; and is contrasted with the colorful materials and patterns that create a warm and welcoming shelter. The arch itself acts as a frame for a virtual portal / refuge seen in Mixed Reality – a space of new digital worlds: creative environments designed to encourage visitors to play and interact together in digital and physical space. Ultimately, the piece is an evolving mix of digital art and physical architecture that creates playful interactions between these realities.


From Small Beginnings by Jack Leather and Charlie Leather, UK
The Great Outdoors has been where many have found solace, perhaps unexpectedly so, over the past 12 months. A year like no other, but great enjoyment has been found in returning to more holistic roots. From Small Beginnings hopes to seize upon this movement; whilst giving platform and space to embrace new opportunities ahead. Through shelves bearing a future forest, the installation allows visitors to seek refuge from harsher elements, whilst both encountering strangers from a safe distance or simply enjoying a place for quiet reflection. Approaching the exterior, the stained and sombre timber provides stark contrast to the lively Spruce seedlings which are free to the elements. Only upon entering the seating and standing areas of the installation the brighter interior is revealed; symbolic of the opportunities that rise from challenging periods, such as the year gone by. Like the seedlings, which can be replanted locally upon closure of the exhibit, we are all simply at the beginnings of our journeys.


The Epitonium by M. Yengiabad – Shahed M. Yengiabad, Elaheh M. Yengiabad, Alemeh M. Yengiabad and Mojtaba Anoosha, Iran
Throughout history, humankind has always strived to learn and to be inspired by the nature in order to engage in new experiences and provide a better and more efficient life for themselves and other beings. In fact, nature is the source of inspiration for architects, artists, investors and scientists. Nature is our origin and destination. Nature includes not only the external environments such as clouds, trees, sea, mountains and animals, but also buildings, components and building materials. By building structures with forms familiar to humans in nature, in addition to creating two-dimensional graphics, architecture has thickness, depth and volume; therefore, architecture can complement nature and be a part of it.

The Epitonium creates a beautiful and functional landscape. The creation of this idea causes natural shelter to become a refuge. The design of this structure is inspired by epitonium, which is a type of seashell, and the structure is in great harmony with its location.


THROBBER by Heidundgriess – Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid, Germany
The reasons why people seek refuge are as diverse as people themselves. But they all have one thing in common: they wait. The walk-in installation THROBBER consists of 10 small shelters. These trapezoidal rooms, lined up next to each other, each in monochrome but in combination, they form the colour spectrum of a rainbow. Inside the installation, the colours are reduced to grey. From an aerial view, the shelters form the shape of a “throbber”. Anyone who has used computer programs or digital devices (often while waiting) know of this icon. They force you to wait, because there is a superior action.

This icon is adopted from the digital to the real world as a symbol for the state of active experience of time, a place of transition, where different perspectives, longings, hopes and motivations come together. The colourful installation is an invitation to perceive the similarities and connections with each other despite individual differences.


Sheridan College winner:Embrace by Colin Laplante, Grace Im, Ziyu Li, Brayden Popke, Nicole Ruiz, Reem Yunis, Bachelor of Craft and Design Program, Sheridan College
This year, we all need a hug. Embrace represents that universal desire, providing a refuge from the real and imagined winds that buffet our beings. The flowing form, suggestive of a beneficent and humorous character, reaches out to embrace the lifeguard tower and the public alike, protecting all from the environment and standing calmly on the beach in all weathers. The neutral white exterior of the form blends in with the winter beach landscape and provides a contrast with the red/orange interior, evoking feelings of protection, comfort and peace while we nestled in its embrace.

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