Winnipeg’s Warming Huts

A cafe in a cross-shaped tent, a mirrored hideaway and a pop-up art gallery are among the shelters that architects have dotted along a frozen river in Winnipeg, Canada.

Warming Huts is an annual international design competition for small structures to be installed at The Forks, an area of Winnipeg where the mouths of the Red River and Assiniboine River meet and freeze during winter months.

One of the winning designs include Mirror Cloaking by students from the University of Manitoba Winnipeg, which uses one-way mirrors and polished stainless-steel panels to create a reflective box from the outside and a viewing cabin from the inside.

A canvas dome forms the roof of the York Boat Gallery, a pop-up art gallery on the ice by local artist collective Chris and Kine, while Hybrid Hut by Mexican studio Rojkind Arquitectos was built using a series of split logs, which create a spiky curved shelter for a bench.

The architects combined traditional craftsmanship with 3D-modeling technology to produce the humped form of the structure. The logs are attached to wooden fins that project the tips upwards like the spikes of a hedgehog's coat.

One of the 2015 Warming Huts structures even houses a restaurant – RAW:almond by British studio OS31 is a cross-shaped tent with a scaffolding framework and a canvas covering. The cross-braced struts are intended to reference the geometry of a nearby bridge.

Inside, the white canvas drapes away from the frame to create a space with a pitched ceiling. Long wooden tables for communal dining, a kitchen and private dining areas are arranged along the arms of the crucifix. Cylindrical lanterns with perforated stainless-steel shades cast a speckled pattern of light and shadow on the canvas walls.

Other huts this year include The Hole Idea by Toronto-based Weiss Architecture & Urbanism Limited – a tunnel with a bright yellow interior that has been planted in a snow drift.

The structure was inspired by the Looney Tunes' Road Runner cartoon. According to the architects, the coyote character in the cartoon used a tunnel in various attempts to ensnare the eponymous speedy bird.

Less functional installations were also included in the competition. One of these, created by Norwegian designer Tina Soli and architect Luca Roncoroni, features a sculpture carved from ice depicting a fish with a gaping mouth leaping from a hole towards a colorful bait on the end of a fishing line. Titled This Big, the piece is based on a tale of a giant mythical fish.

The 2015 Warming Huts were joined on the ice by 12 huts from previous years. The competition was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Association of Architects, University of Manitoba, Faculty of Architecture & Partners Program, KGS Group, and Canada Culvert.