Have a look at cool, quirky art installations lining Toronto’s beaches this winter

By Samantha Edwards| Photography by Giordano Ciampini

A Japanese hot spring, an inverted forest, a wooden lighthouse—those are just some of the unusual structures dotting Toronto’s eastern beaches this month. The installations are part of the third annual Winter Stations Design Competition, in which architects and artists transform mundane lifeguard posts along Kew, Scarborough and Balmy Beaches into surreal works of art. We spoke to the designers of the eight projects, which were chosen from more than 350 submissions, about their installations.

The Beacon

Joao Araujo Sousa (quoted) and Joanna Correia Silva • Porto, Portugal “The Beacon is an interpretation of a lighthouse. We chose it for its symbolism: lighthouses attract attention, warn people and mark special occasions. It’s a way to highlight the social challenges the world faces in a time of political uncertainty. We intend for it to be a temporary donation hot spot, with a few openings for donated goods like food or clothes for local charities. The installation is made from weathered cedar to look as if it always belonged on the beach.”—Joao Araujo Sousa


Collective Memory

Mario García and Andrea Govi • Barcelona and Milan “Our installation, made from hundreds glass bottles, is inspired by the refugee crisis, Brexit and the rise of populist politics. It celebrates Canada’s openness towards immigrants. We took the idea of a ‘message in a bottle’ to make the installation interactive: we encourage people to write down their own memories and leave them inside one of the bottles. They each containe one message, one story, one life. All those stories together make the history of Canada.”—Mario García



Studio Perch • Montreal “We were inspired by the vast boreal forests and the north. We suspended 39 fir trees upside down from a wood frame structure, which is held up by posts and anchored to the lifeguard station.”—Suresh Perera



Rob Shostak, Dionisios Vriniotis, Dakota Wares-Tani and Julie Forand • Toronto “In open water, buoys attempt to delineate boundaries in something that is in constant flux. Our installation consists of hundreds of CNC-milled units that are shaped like buoys. The majority are made of weather-treated wood, but some are milled from thick plexiglass. We painted the wood pieces white laminated them a mirrored vinyl, creating three types of buoys. They fit together using a slotting system that allows them to be reconfigured in infinite ways.”—Rob Shostak


The Illusory

Humber College’s School of Applied Technology andSchool of Media Studies & IT • TorontoThe Illusory is inspired by places that foster moments of introspection, like sacred spaces or gardens. The installation comprises 40 posts of varying heights constructed from fibreboard and wrapped with reflective vinyl. After entering the installation, participants can see fragmented versions of themselves and the environment.”—Cole Swanson


I See You Ashiyu

Asuka Kono and Rachel Salmela • Toronto “I’m a big fan of hot springs and public baths—I used to go once a week when I was living in Japan. They’re a great space to communicate with family, friends and even new people. We wanted to encourage this type of social interaction in Toronto [and have people dip their feet in]. We used cedar to tie in the sense of smell associated with bathing traditions. The tub is connected to a wood-burning stove that doubles as a heater for a small waiting area on the opposite side of the station. Visitors and volunteers will tend to the fire.”—Asuka Kono



Flotsam and Jetsam

University of Waterloo • Waterloo “We were shocked by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s prediction that, by 2050, the weight of the plastics in the oceans will be greater than the weight of all fish. Flotsam and Jetsam invites visitors to consider how they can change their behaviour and reduce the amount of waste. The installation is made out of wire mesh panels, which we cut and assembled into cubes, then filled with plastic containers—mostly water bottles—collected from students and the local community.”—Carly Kandrack


Midwinter Fire

University of Toronto’s Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design • Toronto “The installation is an enclosure surrounding a planting scheme of Betula Papyrifera (paper birch) and Cornus Sanguinea (red dogwood) that emulates a fire emerging from the wood chips. "—Peter North


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