Winter Stations 2018

These surreal installations just transformed Toronto's waterfront

Toronto's east end beaches were packed yesterday, on a soggy February afternoon, for the first time in months.

Such is the power of good art.

A series of large-scale, temporary public art installations were unveiled yesterday across Ashbridges Bay, Balmy Beach and Kew Beach as part of the annual WinterStations international design competition.

Now in its fourth year, this free exhibition showcases the works of designers, architects and artists from Canada and elsewhere around the world under one central, organizing theme.

For 2018, the theme is "RIOT," which encourages artists to express "an active resistance" of the current "political, cultural or environmental climate."

Here's what each of the winning submissions for 2018 look like, as installed right now around seven lifeguard stands along the beaches of Toronto. 

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Pussy Hut

This piece by Martin Miller and Mo Zheng of Ithaca, NY is one of the most buzzed about from this year's crop of winning submissions.

It is quite literally a giant version of the famous 'Pussy Hat' design worn by activists around the world to champion women's rights.

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Make Some Noise!!! 

This "oversized noisebox" by Alexandra Grieß and Jorel Heid of Hamburg, Germany, invites visitors to get loud and make some noise using one of two cranks that set off horns on each side.

Wind Station

Paul van den Berg and Joyce de Grauw of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, created this piece as a "call for a nuclear power phase-out."

Visitors can enter the pavilion, climb into the lifeguard chair, and experience the full moving shape from inside.

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A maze of sorts, this work by Kien Pham of Surbiton in the U.K. is described as a "metaphor for the narrative of a person facing unspecific, seemingly insurmountable problems of the world."

Visitors must work together to reach the sculpture's middle, where they can climb up the lifeguard chair and get an elevated view of the Obstacle below.


Composed of 36 modules of differing heights, this piece asks visitors to share their opinions through the air. It was constructed by one of three student teams selected for this year's exhibition.

From OCAD University in Toronto, the project team is composed of Ben Chang, Anna Pogossyan, Amr Alzahabi, Carlos Chin, Iris Ho, Tracee Jia, Krystal Lum, Adria Maynard, Purvangi Patel and Judiette Vu.

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Rising Up

This work by students from the University of Guelph's School of Environmental Design and Rural Development is inspired by the topography of Toronto's Don Valley.

It is said to represent "nature’'s uprising against increasing urbanisation." The project team includes Alexander Good, Austin Huang, Kevin Sadlemyer, Marc Cote, Stephan Stelliga, Zixiang Chen, Nadia Amoroso, John Phillips and Sean Kelly.

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Ryerson University Students Adrian Chiu, Arnel Espanol and Henry Mai of Toronto descrube NEST as "an installation that embodies ideas of comfort within a system of disorder and complexity." It is meant to provide shelter, as well as a space for playful moments of light, colour and shadow.

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You can see all of this year's Winter Stations installations in person, for free, at Ashbridges, Balmy Beach and Kew Beaches until April 1, 2018.

Lead photo by

Henry Mai

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