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UK designer completes Toronto winter beaches pop-up

London-based AA architecture graduate Kien Pham has had his competition-winning temporary winter installation installed on a Toronto beach

The architectural designer’s ‘Obstacle’ pavilion was one of seven designs picked to be constructed within the city’s Beaches district as part of Toronto’s annual Winter Stations competition which sought riot-themed structures to attach to existing lifeguard stands.

Pham’s design features a square of red suspended columns and is described as a ‘metaphor for overcoming the problems in the world’. It will remain on site until 1 April. 

According to its description: ‘Although at first, it seems like an impenetrable barrier, the columns rotate allowing visitors to enter and interact with the obstacle, and other visitors. In order to confront the obstacle, visitors have to work together, rotating the columns in sequence to overcome the adversity.’

The other winning schemes include a recreation of an Italian Futurist installation, a woven ‘PussyHut’ inspired by the Women’s Marches movement, and an arrangement of pinwheels in the shape of a nuclear power station cooling tower.

The fourth annual Winter Stations contest sought proposals for temporary structures, with a budget of C$10,000 (£5,600) to entice visitors to the area during winter. The district borders Lake Ontario and is popular with tourists and swimmers during the summer months but less busy when cold weather arrives.

The winning designs will remain until April on the Balmy, Kew and Ashbridges Bay beaches within the Beaches district of the Ontario capital. Proposals were expected to be able to withstand harsh weather and potential night-time vandalism.

The contest was organised by RAW Architects, Ferris + Associates and Curio. Its ‘riot’ theme invited participants to reflect on the political upheaval and continued global uncertainty over the past 12 months. Judges included Canadian architect and artist Paul Raff.

Winter Stations co-founder Roland Rom Colthoff of RAW Design said: ‘It was important for us to allow the competition to evolve and reflect the global events of the past 12 months. At the same time, the installations couldn’t stray too far from the main motive of Winter Stations, which is to bring joy, warmth and conversation to the long, cold Canadian winter landscape.’

Winter Stations design jury chair Lisa Rochon said: ‘Provocative, political and audacious, the winning submissions have brought a fantastic riot to the beach this year. The jury considered every submission seriously and I believe the public will be amazed and delighted by this year’s installations on the beach.’