Winter Stations design competition 2017 serves as ‘catalyst for design ideas’

An annual design competition involves re-imagining Toronto lifeguard stands for winter. A crowd gathers to admire one of last year’s winning installations, titled ‘Aurora Borealis.’ All images courtesy Khristel Stecher
An annual design competition involves re-imagining Toronto lifeguard stands for winter. A crowd gathers to admire one of last year’s winning installations, titled ‘Aurora Borealis.’
All images courtesy Khristel Stecher

For its third year, the annual Winter Stations Design Competition encourages designers to explore the possibilities of lifeguard stands at beaches in the east end of Toronto. Prior to the competition’s November 4 deadline, entrants will need to submit proposals for temporary artistic installations that use these stands as a framework—and can withstand the city’s cold winter.

Artists, designers, architects, and landscape architects—both within Canada and internationally—are invited to submit proposals for this single-stage competition, provided that their proposal fits the stipulations of the contest. The University of Toronto Daniels Faculty of Architecture Landscape and Design, Humber College School of Design, and the University of Waterloo School of Architecture are each planning to have teams of students design three stands.

A major aspect of the competition is the theme of repurposing and waste elimination. Proposals should indicate what should be done with the materials used in the installation after the exhibition, including how to dispose of or recycle them. Specifically, proposals should identify what the materials’ ‘life’ after Winter Stations will be—for example, if there is any potential to use the material for a new site or structure. Additionally, if the design team intends its installation to be used with one specific station, this should be noted in the proposal.

A 2015 installation titled ‘Driftwood Throne’ envelops this lifeguard stand.
A 2015 installation titled ‘Driftwood Throne’ envelops this lifeguard stand.

The lifeguard stands to be used in this competition are composed of sturdy steel pipe, and contain no substantial differences from one another. Installations are to be fastened to these structures in any fashion the designer chooses, provided that they do not damage the stand. The stands will not be in use at the time of the exhibition, but a few safety restrictions still apply—installations cannot cover the shepherds’ hook, lifesaving ring, or any emergency signage.

There is no size limit on entries, but a restriction on cost does exist. Each designer is to work within a $10,000 budget, which is intended to cover materials, labour, and all applicable taxes. Designers should be realistic in their planning, as jurors will be considering the durability and constructability of each project in their deliberations. No power or utilities will be available, and any entrants who are selected to participate must agree to work to the organizers’ pre-established schedule.

It should be noted no guarantee against vandalism or wear and tear on the installations can be provided, as the exhibition will include only minimal security. Inspired by the current climate of international social and political change, the theme of the competition is ‘catalyst,’ or the process of converting one form into another.

A technical review of finalists will take place once a shortlist has been determined. Competition organizers will assign a construction team led by a project manager to each finalist, and those finalists will work with the team to provide appropriate working drawings and ensure that construction of their installation is both possible and affordable. This partnership will continue from December 2016 to the installation of the projects, at which point the entrant, project manager, and team will collaboratively oversee the actual construction work (done by Toronto firms selected, again, by the organizers).

This frosty installation, titled ‘Lithoform,’ was one of last year’s winners.
This frosty installation, titled ‘Lithoform,’ was one of last year’s winners.

Final winners will be announced on November 21. Winning teams will be given a design honorarium of $3500. A bursary of up to $1500 for travel and accommodation will also be provided to winning teams located outside of Toronto so they can take part in the installation and any activities related to the opening of the exhibit. Winners should be prepared to socialize—the opening activities are intended to give Toronto’s general public an opportunity to directly engage with designers, and discussions with the media about the ideas and design behind each piece should be expected.

Opening activities will take place from February 17 to 20, while the exhibition itself will run from February 20 to March 27. Those with an interest in artwork, Toronto’s winter waterfront, design and architecture, or simply this exhibition are encouraged to come explore.

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