Toronto Through My Lens

Winter Stations 2024

What Is Winter Stations?

This past weekend I visited the latest iteration of Winter Stations at Woodbine Beach. Winter Stations is a single-stage international design competition held annually in Toronto. Participants are tasked with designing temporary winter art installations which incorporate existing lifeguard towers spaced strategically across the city’s Kew and Woodbine beaches. The structures (not in use in the wintertime) are considered visual anchor points for the installations.

Every year Winter Stations has a theme; this year it was entitled Resonance.

As in previous years, Winter Stations intends to build 4-6 winning proposals for a six-week exhibition along the waterfront, funding permitted.

While Toronto beaches are not typically as well visited in the colder seasons, Winter Stations has captured the imagination of the city. Designers can expect their designs to be well-visited and should anticipate public interaction.

The Installations

This year Winter Stations is spread around a little more to offer more easily accessible locations. There are six installations on Woodbine Beach, which are the ones I’ve covered in this post. There are three more installations that I did not get to: one in Woodbine Park, one in Kew Gardens and one in Ivan Forrest Gardens.

Installation descriptions courtesy of the Winter Stations website.


Bobbin’ invites the visitor to a place where pivotal moments and whimsical memories prompt reflection. It shelters visitors with slats that create an ever-changing threshold between the bobbing zone and the surrounding beach. The seesaws draw from the playground-like Sling Swing and Lifeline projects, while its form within the landscape reflects HotBox and Introspection. Each material has been sourced from previous student projects in addition to salvaged materials from the community of Cambridge. As you navigate through, bobbing up and down, a fresh perspective unfolds, encouraging resonance with the surrounding and past Winter Stations.

We Caught A UFO!

We Caught A UFO! builds upon the project In the Belly of a Bear, which utilized the lifeguard chair by lifting the public above ground into a cozy space, transporting them into a new world. We Caught a UFO! re-imagines these qualities by referencing the rumours and whispers of the many UFO sightings across Lake Ontario. However, these rumours can no longer be disputed, as there is now physical proof! Caught under a net, the UFO is wrapped in glued aluminum foil which glimmers in the light, contrasting its surroundings as a foreign object. The public (especially kids!) are encouraged to explore the UFO and can climb up into the main space where pink plexi windows transform the beach into a new tinted landscape or planet! Ultimately, We Caught a UFO! is an installation which stimulates the public’s imagination while also providing a necessary shelter from the wind and cold.


WinterAction is a collaborative installation between the University of Guelph Department of Landscape Architecture and Ashari Architects in Iran. Its physical form is extremely simplistic and frankly underwhelming, but that’s because this iterative installation requires a phone to get the full experience. Through an augmented reality labyrinth journey, participants are provided with the opportunity navigate from confusion to inner peace, symbolized by a virtual tree at the centre that dynamically evolves with interactions. To begin, you need to download an app from the QR code on the installation’s sign.


Beneath the night sky, stars shine and create geometric patterns. Nova is a star that has crashed on top of a lifeguard station and illuminates Woodbine Beach throughout the night. Nova highlights TMU’s past decade of Winter Stations, inspired by the origami, materiality, and form of Snowcone, Lithoform, and S’Winter Station. Nova introduces 3D printing, a textile canopy, and an elegant steel pipe connection to create a pavilion with Resonance. The star pavilion shields users and encourages them to engage with their surroundings, and the lifeguard station makes a beacon for users to access panoramic views of the beach.


Inspired by the airy strands that make up the 2016 installation Floating Ropes, Nimbus’s playful shapes and colours do more than just resonate with its predecessor. Nimbus evolves the concept and materials by adding saturated blue ropes hanging below a bubbly white structure. The station asks visitors to consider the presence and absence of rain in our contemporary world by referencing both severe storms and flooding, as well as concerning trends of lack of rain, drought, and desertification.

A Kaleidoscopic Odyssey

A Kaleidoscopic Odyssey invites onlookers to step into an experience where we challenge where reality ends and imagination begins. Explore the limitless depths of perception with this mesmerizing adaptation of Kaleidoscope of the Senses, 2020. In this installation, there are two guiding concepts. The scale of a traditional kaleidoscope is magnified 84 times to a human scale so participants can inhabit the instrument and become a part of its wonder. Where a kaleidoscope is commonly a closed-loop system, this device is deliberately severed into two sculptured equal-and-opposite parts, with purposeful space between them.

1 Comment

  1. Despina Kyraleos

    Ah you should have stopped by!
    I have yet to see them!

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