Winnipeg's portion of Canada's Great Trail will have an international flavour following a competition for new bench designs.
Two winning designs — coming from China and New York — were chosen from 104 submissions from 21 countries in the 2019 Benchmark International Design Competition. The benches will be unveiled in June, according to contest organizers Storefront Manitoba and the Winnipeg Trails Association.
The Great Trail, formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail, is now the world’s longest network of recreational multi-use trails — a designation 25 years in the making. In Manitoba, the Great Trail traverses 1,555 kilometres. A portion of the trail winds through The Forks National Historic Site.
"I love how the winning installations 'rethink the bench' and raise issues of placemaking we often forget about: seeing through the eyes of a child again or the calm when you escape from the wind," Anders Swanson, the Winnipeg Trails Association executive director said in a statement.
The first winner, Wall Chair by Li Jiapei, Tan Yeqian and Yang Hengyuan of Beijing, China, will be placed in Sir John Franklin Park on Wellington Crescent. It is described as being "inspired by the existing rail bridge and the landscape of Sir John Franklin Park" and has translucent walls of vertical steel poles.
A bench called Seesaw by Sylvia Choi and Daegeon Jeong of Brooklyn, N.Y. is the other winner and will be placed near a traffic circle in the Bunn's Creek area. It looks like a seesaw and is described as providing "a new vertical movement to the site and playfully recalls one’s fond childhood memories."
The competition was held to raise awareness of Winnipeg’s trails system while providing practical benefits to present and future users, Storefront Manitoba stated in the press release.
In Manitoba, users of the Great Trail can walk, paddle and hike in a continuous — not necessarily straight — line from Saskatchewan to Ontario.