Warming huts competition returns to The Forks

This year’s event highlights student contributions

For the first time, the Warming Huts competition at The Forks has a program for secondary schools across Manitoba to participate. (Supplied photo)

The Forks’ warming-huts competition is back for a 14th consecutive year. The upcoming event runs from Oct. 4 to Jan. 29. Once again, it’s expected to bring Winnipeg into the international spotlight while showcasing public art.

Warming huts are traditionally structures located in areas frequented by skiers and ice skaters. They can provide temporary shelter from the elements and a place to rest.

The warming huts judged in the competition and displayed along the Nestaweya River Trail at The Forks serve the same purpose, with a twist. They offer Winnipeggers shelter and a way to enjoy public art.

“For our public-art and architecture competition, all we ask is that the designs submitted push the boundaries of design, craft and art. They don’t all provide much shelter or warmth, but we like to say that they warm hearts,” Jenna Khan says in an email to The Uniter.

Khan is a communication specialist at The Forks who says the warming huts competition, officially titled Warming Huts: An Art + Architecture Competition on Ice, melds “world-class design and art with Winnipeg’s famous winters.”

The competition has seen entries from across the globe. It’s been recognized by international architecture publications and awards and has been covered by outlets like The New York Times.

Bringing the quirky selection of huts to Winnipeg’s largest rivers takes months of intricate behind-the-scenes work.

Preparation for the winter competition begins in July with a call for submissions that closes in October. Khan says the competition sees about 200 submissions each year. It’s open to architects, architecture students, interior designers and artists, and the competition is all about “the formation of multi-disciplinary teams,” she says.

At the end of the competition, a jury of architects, designers and artists anonymously reviews the submissions and critiques each project.

This year’s competition comes with a new focus: students. A team of students will work with a construction crew and artists to create and install their work.

All secondary schools in Manitoba will have the opportunity to participate in this new, Canada Council for the Arts-funded school program, according to Khan.

A team of students will be chosen to work with the construction crew and artist teams to create and install their work during “build week.” The one-of-a-kind program will provide an opportunity for mentorship and networking in the arts and design sector within secondary schools.

Three of this year’s judges are local, one of whom is a University of Manitoba architecture student who has previously been involved with the warming huts.

“The (jury members) don’t know (who’s on what team) or where they’re from until after they’ve made their decisions. The jury selects three designs that will be built and added to the Nestaweya River Trail,” Khan says. The selected participants then come to Winnipeg in January to build their designs.

For more information about the exhibition, visit warminghuts.com.

Published in Volume 77, Number 04 of The Uniter (September 29, 2022)

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