At the end of a warm Canadian February, Torontonians gathered along the shoreline of Lake Ontario in record numbers to celebrate Family Day and the unveiling of the 2017 edition Winter Stations. The stations consist of eight installations built over existing lifeguard stands, imagined and realized by architecture studios, designers and artists from all around the world as well as student teams from Canadian universities.
Winter Stations is a program that was established by local firms RAW, Ferris + Associates — two architecture firms based in the Ontario capital — and curio and which aims to bring creative ideas to life in the city to encourage outdoor social activity during the colder months of the year. The 2017 Winter Stations — exhibited along Kew, Scarborough and Balmy Beaches — stem from the central theme of “Catalyst” and offer meditations on the power of change that each piece can play in transforming the landscape of Toronto for the duration of the installation.
The open competition also called for proposals to address the material afterlife of their project, drawing out creative reuse solutions for each structure. Out of 341 submissions, a jury comprising local developers and advocates for productive public space selected eight winning proposals. The installations, many of which radiated in their reflective nature on this sunny Family Day, were realized in the week prior to February 21 and are featured in the following photographs taken by Khristel Stecher on the celebratory day.
Collective Memory by Mario García, Barcelona, Spain, and Andrea Govi, Milan, Italy
The original inspiration for this installation is a statistic, which states that by 2031, nearly half of the Canadian population aged 15 years or older will be foreign-born or the child of a migrant parent. The recycled bottles used in the realization of the piece allude to a message lost at sea and create sunlight-distorting, translucent walls around the existing stand.
BuoyBuoyBuoy by Dionisios Vriniotis, Rob Shostak, Dakota Wares-Tani, Julie Forand, Toronto, Canada
In the same way that floating buoys form a whole along a horizon line, the BuoyBuoyBuoy installation imagines a cloud-like form composed of many parts, shaped like the visible component of a buoy seen from afar. The reflective material used in the petals of the structure creates illuminating reflections, bringing attention to the station on the shore.
Flotsam and Jetsam by University of Waterloo, Ontario
One of three projects realized by a team of students from Canadian universities, Flotsam and Jetsam consists of a 20-foot-high sculpture that reflects on the realities of plastic consumption and the resulting waste. The trash-composed structure is shaped like a whale disappearing into the sand, alluding to the effects of human-caused pollution on the aquatic biodiversity of the planet.
I See You Ashiyu by Asuka Kono and Rachel Salmela, Toronto, Canada
Inspired by the Japanese tradition of using hot springs and warm water to offer physical relief from the cold, Kono and Salmela’s installation features a sauna-like station where visitors gather and dip their feet into warm water, an occasion for repose and mingling in warm weather fashion.
Midwinter Fire by Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto, Ontario
Cloistered by tall mirrored walls, Midwinter Fire plants hot-colored vegetation from Southern Ontario into the wintery landscape of blue and white beaches to provide an immersion into a winter forest in situ.
North by studio PERCH, Montreal, Canada
Fir trees — 41 of them to be exact — are suspended from a simple frame to simulate a forest-like canopy, filtering the waterborne sunlight most beautifully. Montreal-based studio PERCH takes inspiration from the poetic concept of the Great North to transport visitors into the branches and needles of the Canadian vegetation, gazing up to the sky with their feet in the sand.
The Illusory by Humber College School of Media Studies & IT, School of Applied Technology, Toronto, Ontario
Blending into the landscape with its multifaceted, mirrored components, The Illusory is a visual experience of distortions and disappearing objects as the visitor approaches and enters the circular installation to play with reflections close and far away.
The Beacon by Joao Araujo Sousa and Joanna Correia Silva, Porto, Portugal
Inspired by the archetypal shape of the lighthouse, this conical sculpture wrapped in aged wood will serve as a temporary drop-off location for nonperishable items such as canned food or clothes for the duration of the Winter Stations installations.
The Winter Stations will be on view in Toronto until March 27.