Al Simmons will stamp his brand of zaniness on the 2022 collection of warming huts on the Red River.

Al Simmons will stamp his brand of zaniness on the 2022 collection of warming huts on the Red River.

The 73-year-old Winnipegger, who has embraced his inner child while entertaining kids across Canada and around the world since the 1970s, will be on the river with his son Karl, at the end of January, to create an installation that will be part of Winnipeg’s annual warming huts event at The Forks.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Al Simmons' guest entry will be called <em>Sounds Crazy.</em></p>

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Al Simmons' guest entry will be called Sounds Crazy.

Their design was unveiled at The Forks Market Thursday morning when the three winners of the 12th annual competition, held by the Manitoba Association of Architects and The Forks North Portage, were announced.

Simmons has made a career of thinking on his feet and improvising, and he warned that plans for the hut could change as swiftly as the city’s famously finicky winter weather.

"My son and I are making it up as we go along," said Simmons, who toted a picture of his son, who lives in Vancouver, which became one of his trademark props. "Karl and I will send the people who are going to build it the plans, and they’ll put it in.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Peter Hargraves of the Winnipeg firm Sputnik Architecture, who is one of the organizers of the competition.</p>

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Peter Hargraves of the Winnipeg firm Sputnik Architecture, who is one of the organizers of the competition.

"But I have a feeling I’ll go to wherever it’s being built and just hang out for a couple of weeks."

Simmons’ guest entry will be called Sounds Crazy, and it’ll be the crazy sounds emanating from it that will provide the entertainer’s sense of humour to the river trail. Inside, there will be buttons and pedals for visitors to push to create different noises.

Competition winners, which were selected by a blind jury, come from three continents and bring their own amusing interpretation of winter in Winnipeg and the Red River skating trail.

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Warming Huts v.2022: An Arts + Architecture Competition on Ice presents its winning designs at the Forks Market.</p>

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Warming Huts v.2022: An Arts + Architecture Competition on Ice presents its winning designs at the Forks Market.

The team of Italian architect Luca Roncoroni and Norwegian graphic designer Tina Soli became the first three-time winner of the warming huts competition. Their work, Singin’ in the Shower, will be a series of colourful shower stalls.

Wintry designs are nothing new for Roncoroni, creative director of the Icehotel Group, which operates the Icehotel in northern Sweden every winter.

"I thought it was delightful. It’s playful, it’s hilarious. It’s photogenic. Kids are going to get it," said Peter Hargraves of the Winnipeg firm Sputnik Architecture, who is one of the organizers of the competition.

SUPPLIED</p><p>Brazilian firm Democratic Architects won for Sunset, a wedge-shaped hut that will allow for sheltered views of Winnipeg's twilight hours.</p>

SUPPLIED

Brazilian firm Democratic Architects won for Sunset, a wedge-shaped hut that will allow for sheltered views of Winnipeg's twilight hours.

Brazilian firm Democratic Architects won for Sunset, a wedge-shaped hut that will allow for sheltered views of Winnipeg’s twilight hours.

Warming Inflation Hands, by Popper Zhu of Shanghai, China, will be a giant, orange-coloured inflatable hand which will protect its visitors the same way human hands cradle a small bird.

The winners for 2022 will be built on the Red River and the skating trails at Arctic Glacier Winter Park during the third week of January and unveiled later that month, weather permitting.

SUPPLIED</p><p>Blossom, a project by students from the engaged learners' program in the Frontier School Division.</p>

SUPPLIED

Blossom, a project by students from the engaged learners' program in the Frontier School Division.

Two community projects were also introduced at Thursday’s media event.

Architecture students from the University of Manitoba will create A Warmer Place, which they hope will become a permanent gathering space to assist homeless people and help revitalize the area next to Thunderbird House on Main Street.

In addition, students from the engaged learners program in the Frontier School Division, which encompasses much of northern Manitoba, will create Blossom, a combination of a backyard playhouse and a gathering place to tell stories and history from Indigenous people who live in Treaty 5 territory.

It’s these kind of installations that drew Simmons to create his own.

"They’re not really warm, they more warm our hearts," he said. "It’s such an amazing thing that I will be part of that. My son and I both hope that the structure we put up and the stuff inside will remain for years to come."

 

alan.small@winnipegfreepress.com

Twitter:@AlanDSmall

 

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Alan Small

Alan Small
Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.