2019’s winning warming huts architecturally ingenious New huts will join a 10-year tradition of artistic shelter design

It's getting colder, but Winnipeggers will feel a little warmer at The Forks next month.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/12/2019 (1029 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s getting colder, but Winnipeggers will feel a little warmer at The Forks next month.

A highly localized heat wave isn’t on the way, but the historic market and tourist site will host its annual display of unique, globally inspired warming huts that will provide guests a brief reprieve from the sub-zero temperatures. 

The warming hut concept began in earnest in 2009, when a group of local architects and designers pitched the idea to The Forks brass. Ten years later, the competition has become a truly global design contest, with 177 entries coming from locales as far afield as Syria, Iran, and New Zealand.

“It’s certainly come a long way,” said Peter Hargraves of Sputnik Architecture, the competition’s producer and one of the people who’s been around it since its humble beginnings.

Hargraves was joined by Forks Renewal Corporation CEO Paul Jordan and representatives from the Manitoba Association of Architects and the University of Manitoba’s faculty of architecture on Friday morning when the winners of this year’s competition and the official invitees were officially unveiled.

The winning designs were selected by a blind jury, and show very different interpretations of what a warming hut can be.

First, there was The Droombok, designed by Strasbourg, France’s Noel Picaper, which resembles a bison-esque creature combined with a tiki hut.

SUPPLIED The Droombok

There was also the Forest Village, designed by Tokyo firm Ashida Architect & Associates Co., composed of a series of straw huts which look like upturned baskets.

SUPPLIED Forest Village

Fitting in with the Ai Weiwei bicycle sculpture unveiled earlier this year at The Forks is S(HOVEL), whose name is a play on its primary material and its design concept.

Made of 194 aluminum shovels, the hut is modelled after a “hovel”, or a simply constructed dwelling. Each shovel used in the hut, designed by a collective of Calgary firms, will be donated to Take Pride Winnipeg’s Snow Angel Program.


Manitoba Building Trades and Mistecture Architecture and Interiors Inc., collaborated on The Stand, a reflective hut that pays homage to the 1919 General Strike, with red accents meant to evoke the violence of Bloody Saturday.


And the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Architecture will interpret the work of Winnipeg artist Eleanor Bond in the coming weeks to design and develop a concept for a warming hut of its own.

Intriguingly, local eclectic band Royal Canoe will collaborate with ice artist Luca Roncoroni of ICEHOTEL fame and Sputnik to create Glacial, a concert experience featuring instruments made from, and a soundscape built entirely off of, ice itself. The band will reimagine its own catalog to reflect the experience, and say it hopes to sound like 1970s David Bowie went to Antarctica and covered Royal Canoe.

SUPPLIED Invited artists - Royal Canoe

Asked how it would look or work, Royal Canoe’s Matt Schellenberg said, “I wish we had the answer to those questions.” Bandmate Matt Peters said that all of January will be dedicated to figuring it out in the lead-up to the band’s free performance on Jan. 31.

In past years, the huts have been placed along The Forks’ river trail, but this year, it’s uncertain whether the trail will be open for use. “People have asked what’s going to happen with the river trail this year, and the answer is, we don’t know,” said Jordan.

Regardless whether the trail is open, the huts will be spread across The Forks site next month, Jordan said.




Looking back on a decade of artistic and architectural warming huts on (and off) Winnipeg’s river trails.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Warming huts are set up on the legislature grounds Wednesday in preparation for Saturday’s festivities. Illuminate 150 is the start of celebrations for Manitoba’s sesquicentennial.
JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS “Warming Huts” have been moved from The Forks to the Legislative grounds in Winnipeg on Wednesday.
Warming huts located along the Red River Mutual Trail provide lively and warm retreats on cold winter days. Forks staff will be monitoring safety conditions to see whether the naturally frozen trail can be open to the public at all this year. (Wayne Glowaki / Free Press files)
A cyclist rides by a warming hut on the frozen Assiniboine River close to the Manitoba Legislative building. (Mike Deal / Free Press files)
The warming huts, while providing relief from the cold, also serve as an economic generator by attracting the curious to The Forks. (The Forks photo)
Jennie O'Keefe and Chris Pancoe with their award-winning warming hut, Huttie, at The Forks. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)
SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR FILES A Grade 11 art class at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute with the warming hut they designed.
JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS HyggeHouse is part of the Warming Hut exhibit on the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in Winnipeg Tuesday, February 20, 2018.
JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS An ice block sculpture sits under the Norwood Bridge and is part of the Warming Hut exhibit on the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in Winnipeg Tuesday, February 20, 2018.
MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Local filmmaker Guy Maddin at the warming hut he designed.
RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Ethan Offman, age 9, pushes a kicksled through the Open Border warming hut, a wall made out of orange plastic strips hanging across the river trail along the Assiniboine River.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Three-year-old Meadow Preteau takes a break from skating in a warming hut at the Forks
DANIELLE DA SILVA / CANSTAR FILES Warming hut 6043, designed and constructed by students at Kelvin High School.
Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press Landscape architect Liz Wreford-Taylor (front) and her Hygge House co-creators relax Thursday in their brilliant-yellow warming hut on the river. The local design took first place in this year's competition.
TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The Voyageur Hut, designed by Etienne Gabourie, sits on display for visitors at The Forks on Friday.
JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Archives Kelvin High School students jump out of their warming hut that they designed and built for The Forks river Trail.
An ice sculpture and warm-up hut created by architect Frank Gehry starts to take form by workers at The Forks Tuesday. January 17, 2012 (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)
BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE BORIS.MINKEVICH@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Tannis Broda and Josh Braaksma check out a warming hut called Apparition.
Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

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