Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Love huts' to keep skaters warm

Artists, architects will liven up river trail

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Skaters on Winnipeg's river trail will soon be able to thaw out in five imaginative new warm-up "love shacks," including one that resembles a tinfoil igloo and one in the form of an ice-covered hanging orb.

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On Thursday, organizers at The Forks released the designs for five shelters to be part of The Warming Hut: An Art + Architecture Exposition on Ice.

Five teams, each consisting of architects paired with an artist or landscape design firm, have each received $9,000 to design and construct a warming hut.

Paul Jordan, chief operating officer at The Forks, expects Winnipeg skaters to find their own ways to generate heat in the huts.

"You can stop and warm up, you can change your skates, or you can do whatever you want -- which often happens," he said with a laugh.

"We call them 'the love shacks' for a reason."

The exposition is being touted as a Canadian first.

"We see this becoming an annual event that eventually morphs into a competition," Jordan said.

This year's huts were commissioned, but in future years a call will go out for entries in the hope of generating international interest. Each year's warming huts will be saved and reused, so the collection will grow.

From Jan. 25 to 27, the public can watch the huts being built on the central plaza at The Forks. The completed huts can be viewed on the plaza from Jan. 28 to 30, before they are placed on the Assiniboine Credit Union River Trail.

The exposition has funding from the Winnipeg Foundation, Manitoba Association of Architects, The Forks and Manitoba Homecoming 2010.

The highest-profile participating architect is Antoine Predock, designer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, who lives in Albuquerque, N.M.

"He is totally into this," Jordan said. "He's wanting to come up and build (his hut), and actually go for a skate."

Predock is teaming with local landscape architecture firm Scatliff+Miller+Murray on a hut called Apparition. The igloo-like shelter is described as "a haunting, ambiguous object" with inviting, solar-fuelled lighting. In the design drawings, it resembles crumpled aluminum foil. It appears skaters may have to crouch or crawl to enter it.

The huts vary in size. Jordan estimates they'll hold three to seven skaters each.

"We want people to love them, we want people to hate them, we want people to have their favourites," Jordan said, adding that The Forks will take steps to protect the huts from damage or vandalism.

Sputnik Architecture is working with artist Jon Pylypchuk on a hut entitled CARCASS, inspired by decaying barns and made of wood, aluminum and polycarbonate.

A hut called Ice Cube, by architect Kevin Loewen and photographer Merri-Lou Paterson, will be a cedar-clad cube with a rooftop solar panel to power interior lights. Because the interior will be translucent, the cube will glow at night.

Architect Richard Kroeker and artist Neil Forrest are creating Fir Hut, which uses the aboriginal technique of thatched balsam fir, but also incorporates pop cans.

Artist Ewa Tarsia is working with 5468796 Architecture Inc. on Sunspot, a large orb that will hang from The Forks Historic Rail Bridge. Its frame will hover just above the frozen river and be sprayed with coloured water -- bright orange in the design drawings -- to form a thin shell of ice.

alison.mayes@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 8, 2010 B1

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