River trail’s 2022 warming huts will look so nice on ice St. John’s student design, Wanda Koop collaboration among new additions at The Forks

Kayden Hill-Pitchenese is looking forward to putting his work on ice.

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Kayden Hill-Pitchenese is looking forward to putting his work on ice.

“Excited and proud,” says the Grade 10 student from St. John’s High School of how he’s feeling to be involved in this year’s installment of Warming Huts: An Arts and Architecture Competition on Ice. “It’s really cool.”

Hill-Pitchenese is among a group of students from the Winnipeg high school who have been selected to create a public art piece that will be displayed on the frozen Nestaweya River Trail at The Forks this winter alongside work by celebrated local and international artists.


Grade 10 student Kayden Hill-Pitchenese and his teacher, Aaron Cyr, hold a display board of their custom design for a warming hut that will be installed along the River Trail.

While schools have participated informally in the past, this is the first time divisions across Manitoba were invited to submit ideas for a project to be funded by the annual competition.

“When you do something in the public realm, it means something and it affects people,” Warming Huts producer Peter Hargraves says.

“As we look to celebrate the stars in the fields of art and architecture… it’s also really important to provide an opportunity for the next generation of stars to rise.”

The St. John’s design — called Azhe’o, which means “to paddle backwards” in Ojibway — will be composed of eight 3.6-metre cedar paddles propping up the gunnels of a stylized canoe.

The concept was inspired by the pre-colonial importance of canoes, paddles and waterways to Indigenous communities in the region.

The warming hut project has become a school-wide endeavour and an opportunity to learn more about local history, says woodworking teacher Aaron Cyr.

“We’re really looking at where the paddle was before it became this iconic Canadian symbol,” Cyr says. “It was a rite of passage for youth to build the paddle, it was a connection to the Earth, it was a canvas for expression.”

CURTAIN By Alejandro Felix and Fang Cui Barcelona, Spain and Shanghi, China

A curtain of ice, like a frozen waterfall, defines an enclosed space that protects visitors from the cold wind. (Supplied)

So far, dozens of students have contributed to the design, concept, project description and accompanying artwork. It’s going to be a busy semester for the build team as they work on bringing the design to life in the school’s wood shop.

Hill-Pitchenese is ready to get started.

HAYSPACE By Philipp Gmür and Hugh Taylor Walenstadt, Switzerland and Winnipeg,

Hayspace is a small shelter made of hay and string and metal and wood. Its sculptural form, generated by the wrapping of twine around hay around a simple structural frame, recalls the cylindrical haybales which dot the prairie landscape.

Tapering columns are spaced far enough apart to allow the visitor to step inside comfortably, however they are spaced close enough together such that they might just brush their shoulder against the hay as they enter. A stray piece of straw might come loose from the column, falling down to the floor.

Are the hay columns emerging from the loose hay piled on the floor or is this hay floor spilling out from the tightly wound hay columns above? (Supplied)

“I’ve always had a passion for woodworking,” he says. “Being crafty and using my hands a lot, that’s the main thing I really like about it.”

The design for Azhe’o was unveiled on Thursday along with five other warming huts that will populate the river trail this winter. The competition, which has been running since 2009, saw 122 submissions from 33 countries.

The winning concepts — three local and three international — were selected by an eight-member jury.

Wanda Koop is this year’s invited artist. Together with Montreal-based furniture designer Thom Fougere, the Winnipeg visual artist has created NIX, a hut constructed in snow and inspired by quinzee shelters.

“When the whole structure is complete it will be immersive and light-filled and Stonehenge-y,” Koop said during Thursday’s media conference. “I can hardly wait to share it with the Winnipeg community.”

NIX By Wanda Koop and Thom Fougere Winnipeg, Canada and Montreal, Canada

NIX is an open-air gallery that brings art and design to the general public in the severe winter setting that is so renowned and embraced by Winnipeg.

As the world finds new ways to gather in public, NIX (Latin for ‘snow’) is a space to pause and reflect in a time where the transportive quality of art and architecture matters more than ever. (Supplied)

Other designs include:

  • Flowing Lands, by students in the faculty of architecture at the University of Manitoba;
  • Curtain, from Alejandro Felix of Spain and Fang Cui of China;
  • Hayspace by Philipp Gmür of Switzerland and Hugh Taylor of Winnipeg; and
  • Meanwhile We Still Dream by Lindo Jia and Jaymon Diaz of the United States.

Twitter: @evawasney

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Flowing Lands By The Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Canada (Supplied)

CURTAIN By Alejandro Felix and Fang Cui Barcelona, Spain and Shanghi, China

A simple framework made of timber and biodegradable ropes will gain mass through the deliberate addition of river water that gradually freezes, accumulating along the guides established by the ropes. (Supplied)

Flowing Lands By The Faculty of Architecture, University of Manitoba Winnipeg, Canada

Eva Wasney

Eva Wasney
Arts Reporter

Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.


Updated on Thursday, November 10, 2022 6:53 PM CST: name spelling error fixed in cutline

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