International ‘Winter Stations’ Competition Puts Thought-Provoking Art on Display in Toronto

Toronto has become an international destination for art and design in recent years, with a number of events and exhibitions displaying works from world-renowned creators popping up all over the city. One such exhibition, which is now in its seventh year and has become a favourite of east-end locals, is Winter Stations. The single-stage international design competition brings Toronto’s waterfront back to life each winter by displaying thought-provoking works from winning designers for all to see and appreciate. 

Each year, Winter Stations applicants are asked to come up with a design proposal based on a chosen theme, and the theme for 2022 is directly related to the global pandemic that upended life as we all knew it. The theme — Resilience: the ability to withstand adversity and recover from difficulties — was chosen in recognition of “the immense ability of people to withstand and push through challenging and unprecedented times.” 

On display at Woodbine Beach until March 31, the exhibition features six winning designs from the 2022 competition. 

The first, called ENTER FACE, was created by Turkey-based design team MELT. The installation aims to make a statement about the dramatic impact screens have had on our lives, particularly throughout the pandemic, by inviting two people at a time to enter into two separate dark boxes. Once inside, the participants can watch the people outside the box through a textured transparent surface.

Winter Stations (Enter Face) in post

The second winning installation, created by a design team from Canada and France, is called the Wildlife-guard Chair and was inspired by the northern cardinal bird — a species that can be found near Lake Ontario all year round. This station encourages spectators to engage with Ontario’s wildlife and ultimately help preserve the diverse range of species living throughout our dense urban environment.

Winter Stations (Wildlife Guard Chair) in post

THE HIVE, created by an all-Canadian design team, is inspired by the resilience of the honey bee. The installation, which is designed with a hexagonal structure similar to a honey bee colony, invites participants inside to “experience the visual diversity of a honey bee hive and work together to form a collaborative community level hive cluster.”

Winter Stations (The Hive) in post

S’winter Station was proposed by a design team from Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science right here in Toronto. The pavilion features moving wings that protect from strong winds and panels that control the amount of light and snow that can enter. The installation also utilizes a lifeguard station, beach towels, and marine ropes — materials typically only used in the summer — and acts as a shelter while encouraging viewers to engage with their surroundings. 

Winter Stations (S'Winter Station) in post

Introspection, conceptualized by a design team from the University of Toronto John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, features a bright red pavilion with mirrored walls on the interior. The design highlights the subject’s presence in an effort to promote introspection into their own emotional resilience as they face their own reflection. 

Winter Stations (Introspection) in post

The sixth winning concept, created by a design team from the University of Guelph, School of Environmental Design & Rural Development, is called One Canada and symbolizes bridging the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples through gathering. The installation features seven rings to represent the seven grandfather teachings that originated with the Anishnabae Peoples and have been passed down through generations: Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility, and Truth. Its orange colour represents the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation and the need for the support of non-Indigenous Peoples, as Indigenous Peoples assert rights to self-determination, in order to strengthen relations and begin to redress historic wrongs.

Winter Stations (One Canada) in post

Since its launch in 2014, Winter Stations has seen entries from designers from more than 90 countries, bringing uniquely thoughtful installations to Toronto’s shores. Don’t miss your chance to witness this year’s winning works before they’re gone for good.

Learn more about Winter Stations here.