Toronto's Beaches: a Winter Destination?

Seven amazing art installations are making this a reality.

Going to the beach in the middle of an Ontario winter probably isn't on the top of your list of things to do, but maybe it should be. For the second year, design firms Raw Design, Ferris + Associates, and Curio are bringing seven art installation to Balmy, Kew, and Ashbridges Bay beaches in Toronto, bringing out visitors even in the coldest temperatures (from the beginning of the install process up until the day of the unveiling, the mercury didn't break 30 degrees Fahrenheit). The design competition, called Winter Stations, reviewed almost 400 proposals for this year's theme, Freeze/Thaw—a call for designs that look at the changing climate of winter beaches. Here's a look at the winning installations, which have taken over the beaches' lifeguard posts through March 20. Layering is your friend!

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"Floating Ropes"

Team: Elodie Doukhan and Nicolas Mussche of MUDO

Hometown: Montreal, Canada

Concept: The architecture collective has created a thick curtain of ropes inside which visitors can take shelter while looking at Lake Ontario.

"In the Belly of a Bear"

Team: Caitlind r.c Brown, Wayne Garrett, and Lane Shordee

Hometown: Calgary, Canada

Concept: The artist team collaborated on an installation in sharp contrast to the environment. The ominous dark sphere is lined with warm fur where visitors, who climb into the space by a ladder, can gaze upon the lake in warmth.

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"Sauna"

Team: Claire Fernley and James Fox of FFLO

Hometown: Kent, U.K.

Concept: This transparent sauna, designed by a landscape architecture firm, is a fully immersive installation with a timber interior and tiered seating. Visitors can thaw out day and night, when solar-powered lights illuminate the structure.

"Flow"

Team: Calvin Fung and Victor Huynh of Sandbox

Hometown: Toronto, Canada

Concept: Two graduate students reimagined ice crystals as star-shaped, wooden modules which fit together to create a solid structure but can also be easily reconfigured like the changing state of water and ice.

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"Lithoform"

Team: Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Sciences and Landscape and Design at Ryerson University

Hometown: Toronto, Canada

Concept: This wind-breaking structure is outfitted with a polychromatic ceiling that filters atmospheric light into the installation. The design is inspired by the natural formation of frost that manifests on the lithosphere, the outer layer of Earth.

"The Steam Canoe"

Team: Faculty of Environmental Design at OCAD University

Hometown: Toronto, Canada

Concept: This project, resembling an overturned canoe, is designed to provide visitors shelter from the harsh winds. A fog effect comes from evacuated solar tubes at the back of the structure which turns snow into steam.

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"Aurora Borealis"

Team: Faculty of Science, Engineering, and Architecture at Laurentian University

Hometown: Sudbury, Canada

Concept: This kinetic, fabric sculpture is rigged with LED lights that illuminate as people approach or touch them. The lights also change color by responding to body heat, emulating the Northern Lights.

Winter Stations will be on view through March 20. For more information, see winterstations.com.

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