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Winnipeg Skating Shelters

Lead Designers
Prize(s)Gold in Other Architectural Designs / Other Architectural designs
Entry Description

Winnipeg is a city of 600,000 residents located on the Canadian prairie. It is the coldest city of its size outside of Siberia. As winter can last six months, learning to celebrate the opportunities that it provides makes sense.

The Red and the Assiniboine Rivers meet in the center of the city, and in winter, when plowed of snow, skating trails many miles long are created. With temperatures that drop to minus 30 and 40 for long periods of time, creating occasions to find shelter from the wind greatly enhances the ability to use these trails.

Our proposal consists of a cluster of intimate temporary shelters, each accommodating only a few people at a time. They are grouped in a small ‘herd’ that stands with their backs to the wind like buffalo, seeming to have life and purpose as they huddle together shielding each other from the elements.

Each shelter is formed of thin, flexible plywood which is given both structure and spatial character through bending/deformation. The form of the shelter is the outcome of a process of stressing/deforming and then releasing stress by a series of cuts and openings.

Grouping the shelters begins with the relationship of two; their juxtaposition qualifying the size and accessibility of their entrance openings. Three pairs are then placed to form a cluster that defines an intermediate ‘interior’ space. Together, the shelters create dynamic solar/wind relationships that shift according to specific orientation, time of day and environmental circumstance.

These are delicate and ‘alive’ structures. They move gently in the wind, creaking and swaying to and fro at various frequencies, floating precariously on the surface of the frozen river. Their fragile and tenuous nature makes those sheltered by them supremely aware of the inevitability, ferocity and beauty of winter on the Canadian prairies.