The BMW iX is a design marvel, appearing to have been carved from a single mould. For instance, the iX’s windows taper to the car’s rear. The rear-end itself is similarly slick and seamless, in large part thanks to the narrowest tail-lights found on a BMW. And, most exciting of all, the iX is the first BMW SAV to sport flush handles and frameless doors. It’s a beacon of well-considered, tidy design.
This all makes it the perfect car to explore one of Canada’s best but under-the-radar design destinations: Winnipeg. The capital of Manitoba is having a moment in the spotlight this year thanks to the recent opening of the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Qaumajuq, which is garnering international acclaim for both its collection of contemporary Inuit art and its wavy granite building. Yet, in many ways, the city has been deserving this kind of recognition for a long time. As the home base of some significant homegrown design talent, Winnipeg has quietly emerged as a secret capital of modern Canadian design.
When it comes to finding a more stationary spot to survey the city’s great design scene, there’s no better vantage point than the modern glass Airbnb rental built atop the curious flying saucer-like condo building known as 62M. The distinctive landmark is designed by 5468796 Architecture, which is leading the charge when it comes to shifting the city’s urban environment in exciting new directions.
Many of the studio’s designs thoughtfully serve the local population, such as the Centre Village block that provides homes for underprivileged families. The firm balances its positive social initiatives with pure architectural spectacles like 62M. Raised off the ground on 10-metre tall stilts to maximize its views, the circular building features unique pie-wedge shaped condo units. Much like Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive apartments or Montreal’s Habitat 67, the building has become an address that inspires respect from serious design devotees.
For those not able to move in full-time, the glass box Airbnb rental still offers an opportunity to experience the building in all of its glory. The unit was actually a late-in-the-game addition, added to take advantage of the great vantage point above the concrete core that houses the building’s elevator. The glass-walled rental plays out as one continuous open space, boasting 360-degree views of both the Red River and the city skyline. (One note: the unit doesn’t include any curtains. But given that it’s raised so far above the rooflines of any neighbouring buildings, its elevation effectively functions as all the curtains you’ll need. In other words, lean into the king-of-the-world mentality.)
And while Winnipeg is known for its cold winters, the rental includes a Finnish sauna ready to help guests warm up and relax after a long day out exploring the two in sub-zero temperatures. In fact, much of Winnipeg’s design scene seems to really come into its own once the temperature drops. The city’s Warming Huts Festival, which runs from late January to March, lines the Assiniboine River skating trail with pavilions designed by a mix of established and up-and-coming design firms. In other words, it’s the perfect chance to spot the next 5468796 before they build their flashy UFO-like masterpiece. Like all of the best modern designs, the Warming Huts help to make day-to-day life more enjoyable — and to draw attention to the beauty of a place that we might otherwise overlook.
BMW’s fully-electric iX is designed from the ground up for a new era of driving — which means it will more than hold its own when parked next to a futuristic building like 62M. And to match the rental suite’s top-of-the-world views, the iX promises to stay at the top of the pack, too, with 516 horsepower ready to propel drives from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds. The “Skylounge” roof — the largest Panorama glass roof ever installed in a BMW — delivers similarly incredible views throughout the drive home, perfect for taking in one of Canada’s unsung design capitals.
Lead Image: James Florio