Part of an annual design competition, the three installations in the city’s historic Distillery District respond to the theme of ‘refuge’
A series of sculptural, interactive installations have been introduced to the pedestrian-only streets of Toronto’s historic Distillery District. Part of an annual competition called Winter Stations (typically held in winter, but this year delayed due to the pandemic), the three installations have been created by various international design teams responding to the theme of ‘refuge’.
The Epitonium, by Iranian designers Shahed, Elaheh and Alemeh M. Yengiabad, in collaboration with Mojtaba Anoosha, takes the form of a seashell. Constructed using white-painted plywood designed in a rippling grid, the work can be entered by visitors, and aims to function as a refuge inspired by nature.
The colourful ARc de Blob installation, meanwhile, is created by London- and Vienna-based architectural design studio iheartblob (Aleksandra Belitskaja, Ben James and Shaun McCallum). The richly decorative and vibrant arch mixes physical presence with digital interactivity through a mixed-reality app. The physical form references iconic classical arches, contrasted with colourful materials and patterns that create a welcoming shelter. The arch itself acts as a frame for a virtual portal seen in mixed reality, accessing digital environments designed to encourage visitors to play and interact.
From Small Beginnings, by UK designers Jack and Charlie Leather, is an inverted timber ziggurat with integrated seating and planting. Tapping into the increased popularity of gardening in the wake of pandemic lockdowns, the designers have constructed the structure to host seedlings that can be taken away by visitors and replanted.
The Winter Stations design competition was founded by Toronto architecture and design firms RAW and Ferris + Associates in collaboration with public art management and consultancy practice Curio. For the 2021 competition, the organisers invited designers and artists to reflect back on the year we have left behind and consider what refuge means to each of us in their submissions.
The installations in the Distillery District will be on view until late July.
Photography by Khristel Stecher
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