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Warming huts around The Forks will feature art from all over the world inspired by Prairies

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As Manitoba braces for a long, cold winter, The Forks is showing off six new designs for warming huts to join old favourites on the Nestaweya River Trail in Winnipeg.

Manitoba will be represented both thematically and geographically by the huts, with the spaces designed by people from the area, and with the elements of the province in mind.

“This year’s new huts embrace the elements, landscapes, and resilience of life on the Prairies — and a few of them even look warm,” said Sara Stasiuk, CEO of The Forks, in a news release on Thursday.

Warming Huts v.2023: An Arts + Architecture Competition on Ice received 122 submissions from 33 countries.

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A jury of four founding members, three community guest jurors and a student guest juror spent a full day debating the merits of each submission and selecting winners.

A warming hut made of long, triangle-shaped hay bales is seen on the side of a frozen-over river. Several people are seen ice skating on the river.
The warming hut Hayspace, created by Switzerland’s Philipp Gmür and Hugh Taylor from Winnipeg, is one of the winners of this year’s Warming Huts v.2023: An Arts + Architecture Competition on Ice. (Submitted by The Forks)

One of the winners of the official competition is a hut called Hayspace, which was designed by Switzerland’s Philipp Gmür and Hugh Taylor of Winnipeg.

The hut is meant to be a “space of warmth and play and relaxation,” the designers say.

The other winners are Curtain, designed by Alejandro Felix and Fang Cui, and Meanwhile We Still Dream, designed by Lindo Jia and Jaymon Diaz.

Curtain will start with a frame of wood and ropes that will have river water added, creating a wall of ice that will form the hut.

“The shelter will be in constant change, gaining mass with precipitation, and becoming thinner and more translucent as it melts back into the river in the spring,” the artists say.

“In this sense, it will be a record of this particular winter’s weather, a subtle reminder of the fragility of our climate, as well as a hint of the many possibilities that working together with nature can offer us.”

There are also a number of huts that will be built by artists who have been invited to take part.

A rectangle of white is seen with a hole in the middle.
Winnipeg’s Wanda Koop and Thom Fougere, currently based in Montreal, created a hut called Nix, which means snow in Latin. It’s inspired by the beauty of a Winnipeg winter. (Submitted by The Forks)

Accomplished Winnipeg artist Wanda Koop and EQ3 creative director and furniture designer Thom Fougere, who is also from Winnipeg, together designed Nix, which means snow in Latin. It was inspired by the beauty of a Winnipeg winter and will be built in snow.

St. John’s High School in Winnipeg was selected to build a hut that students and staff designed named Azhe’o, which means “to paddle backwards” in Ojibway.

An artists rendering of a warming hut made of canoe paddles superimposed on a photo of two people skating.
A group of students from St. John’s High School designed the warming hut Azhe’o, which means ‘to paddle backwards’ in Ojibway. (Submitted by The Forks)

The designers say it was constructed with the purpose of exploring the history of the canoe and paddle from their inception, and meant to show the importance of the canoe to the Indigenous people of Canada.

The University of Manitoba’s faculty of architecture submission is Flowing Lands, a nod to the fluid motion of a Prairie winter.

The vision for the warming huts will be brought to life at the end of January during build week, as long as Mother Nature permits, The Forks says.

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