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.
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.
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.
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.
10 YEARS OF WARMING HUTS
Looking back on a decade of artistic and architectural warming huts on (and off) Winnipeg's river trails.