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Photos: James Bombales

Launched in 2015 by Raw Design, Ferris + Associates and Curio in partnership with the City of Toronto, the Winter Stations design competition invites international artists, designers and architects to reimagine several lifeguard stands along Toronto’s east end beaches. After a successful inaugural year, the competition has returned for 2016, receiving over 350 entries from 45 countries around the world.

“One of the objectives of the Winter Stations is to engage the design and arts community, both locally and internationally,” said Justin Ridgeway, founder of Curio, a public art management and design discipline communications consulting firm. “This year we received almost 400 entries so it’s grown significantly and just had a snowball effect from last year.”

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Preceding the official opening and reveal of the installations on Monday, February 15th, the winning teams were joined by Toronto City Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon,event organizers, and members of the public at a special event held last night at the Gladstone Hotel. Attendees learned more about the winning designs as teams revealed their concepts in a Pecha Kucha format where presenters showed 20 slides, each for 20 seconds.

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After a winter season that started with spring like temperatures, the theme of “Freeze/Thaw” is fitting to this year’s competition and challenged participants to respond to the changing climatic conditions and transitions of Toronto’s unpredictable winters. The result is four interactive designs — including a fully functioning hot sauna — by teams from Toronto, Calgary, Sudbury, and the UK. The winning installations will be joined by three student-led pieces from Laurentian University, OCADU and Ryerson University.

In addition to the seven winter stations, a fire pit art installation by renowned Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal will also be unveiled. Sponsored by Diamante Development, the fire pit uses Western Red Cedar charred in an ancient Japanese technique called Shou Sugi Ban, to provide a source of warmth for visitors and a protective shield from the winds.

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To learn more about the Winter Stations, visit the official site and be sure to attend the official unveiling next Monday, February 15th at the bottom of Lee Avenue, east of Kew Gardens, starting at 1pm.

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