Get out of the cold with The Forks warming huts, 2019 edition

The newest group of warming huts are now in place, just in time to help visitors to The Forks endure a bout of Winnipeg extreme weather.

Each year, The Forks invites, and receives, submissions from all over the world for creative and functional structures to place along the Red River Mutual Trail to give outdoor adventurers a chance to get in out of the cold. Submissions are then judged, with three being selected as winners. Judges are given no background information about the huts, and don’t know where the designers are from.

The fact that one of the top three was home-grown is either evidence of our deep connection with the need to warm up in the winter, or our creativity and command of what people want to see, or maybe a little of both.

The Forks warming huts top three for 2019

Huttie — designed by Jennie O’Keefe and Chris Pancoe in Winnipeg.

“I think Winnipeg is an epicenter of the world when it comes art and creativity so it’s wonderful we are a part of this,” said O’Keefe.

This warming hut is expected to become a favourite for kids of all ages. Inspired by the children’s TV show H.R. Pufnstuf, the structure offers a “psychedelic cascading interior” with a plush gliding tongue. If retro cult and technicolour are right up your alley, this hut will draw you in for more than just a warm-up.

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Jennie O’Keefe and Chris Pancoe of Winnipeg.

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Winnipeg’s Jennie O’Keefe and Chris Pancoe’s creation: “Huttie”.

Hoverbox — designed by Simon Kassner and Wilko Hoffmann in Berlin, Germany.

“We dressed up the columns with human clothes so nobody can understand from a distance if there’s visitors inside if their standing, waiting or relaxing,” Hoffman explained.

The hut features a large white box that, as the name suggests, hovers over the ice. Even visitors will think they are floating above the floor.

How does it work? An optical illusion “involving distance and proximity”. The structure includes a labyrinth, narrow slanted openings, winding corridors, holes in walls allowing the people inside to only partially perceive others around them.

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Wilko Hoffman and Frieder Vogler of Berlin, Germany.

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Germany’s Wilko Hoffman and Frieder Vogler’s creation: “Hoverbox”.

Weathermen — designed by Haemee Han and  Jaeyual Lee in New Jersey, U.S.A

“We were thinking something that has a very primary color that pops out on the river so that when people are out on the river they can notice it very easily, interact with it, and get inside,” Lee said.

This hut is more of a collection of structures rather than a building of its own.

Snowmen of varying shapes and sizes, made from stacked insulation foam with plaster coating are laid out in a grid. The hut was designed to tap into visitors’ past memories while “creating new ones simultaneously.”

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Haemee Han and Jaeyual Lee of Jersey City, USA.

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Jersey City’s Haemee Han and Jaeyual Lee’s creation: “Weathermen”.

There are many more huts out along the river trail than just this year’s winning creations.

The Arts + Architecture Competition on Ice sent out an open call for submissions from national and international architectural institutes and associations. One of this year’s huts — Arctic Topiaries — was designed by the architect responsible for the Winnipeg Art Gallery Inuit Art Centre.

Other huts came about by invitation.

Pavilion Sub-Zero was designed by the University of Manitoba Faculty of Architecture.

Terje Isungset, an ice musician from Bergen, Norway is also featured. He will actually be performing using instruments made from ice cut from the Red River.


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