winter stations design competition

Have you ever walked down a beach in the winter and seen the forlorn, abandoned lifeguard stations dotting the sand? These poor, underused structures really only get to shine for a few months a year before colder weather keeps everyone at home. The Winter Stations Design Competition is a delightfully offbeat way to celebrate the lowly guard station – and give it a nice winter job, too.

driftwood throne

The Beaches neighborhood in Toronto is the site of these larger-than-life installations. The competition called for sturdy art pieces bearing the theme of “warmth” to be buttressed by the lifeguard stations. Above, one of the five winners: Driftwood Throne by Daniel Madeiros. The bold geometric sculpture features stairs that lead inside, where you can huddle in warmth and enjoy the view of the water.

sling swing

The Sling Swing by Ed Butler, Dan Wiltshire and Frances McGeown is a multi-faceted piece that encompasses nostalgia, goofiness, and a mental escape to summer. The bright slings each accommodate one person. When lots of people are on board, the sting of the winter chill is somewhat thawed by the gathering and sharing of body heat. If nothing else, the swings themselves make a decent windbreak.

hot box

Michaela MacLeod and Nicholas Croft created the Hot Box with the “warmth” theme in mind. They fashioned it after ice fishing huts, but the Hot Box is far more stylish. Instead of tarp, the outer material is a layered foam + rubber combination that insulates the structure’s interior. Occupants aren’t completely shut off from the outside world, however: an oculus in the roof allows for stargazing or lets the snow gently drift inside.

wing back

The Wing Back from Tim Olson was designed with a classic wingback chair in mind. The shape of the chair is meant to capture heat put off by a fireplace; likewise, the Wing Back is designed to retain the warm air emitted by a central fire ring. All five of the Winter Stations Design Competition winners are on display in Toronto from February 16 to March 20, 2015.


Finally, Snowcone, a project from Lily Jeon and Diana Koncan, takes inspiration from nature. The pinecone-shaped installation fits over a lifeguard station so that people can stand inside the wooden beams. It’s a kind of makeshift structure that actually benefits from bad weather: when snow falls on the acrylic “leaves,” the snow actually insulates the makeshift structure.