Artsy lifeguard stations will brighten Toronto’s snowy beach

Five winning designs have been unveiled for lifeguard stands that will double as public space art installations on Toronto's beach.

January 16, 2015 |
Hot Box, by Michaela MacLeod of Polymtis Architecture and Nicholas Croft, was o

A beach is a place for fun in the sun. In the winter, it should at least still be a place for fun. Architectural firms RAW Design and Ferris and Associates joined forces with public art management company Curio in organizing a competition to transform Toronto’s snow-clad steel lifeguard stands into interactive works of art.

In October 2014, the organizers invited designers, artists, and architects to design lifeguard stand redesigns that would attract visitors to the beach in winter, Torontoist reports.

“The beach is obviously super well-used in the summer months,” RAW Founder Roland Rom Colthoff told the Torontoist. “However, in the wintertime it’s rather grey, to say the least. It’s cold and windy, and not a lot of people are down there because it’s a tough environment to be in."

Out of the 196 submissions they received from all over the world, four designs were selected on Dec. 9, 2014 by a panel that included Toronto Star architecture critic Christopher Hume, as well as a city official and several people in the city’s art scene.

Organizers and the winning designers are currently working out the logistics of the building structures, which will be complete for the public’s enjoyment on Feb. 16, Canada’s Family Day.

Ultimately, five lifeguard stands will be constructed, consisting of the four winning designs and a scheme by Ryerson University architecture students.

Here’s a look at the renderings with a short description (both courtesy of each design team):


Sling Swing, by Ed Butler, Dan Wiltshire, and Frances McGeown of WMB Studio

“Playfully imagines how a group of summer deckchairs might adapt themselves to the cold winter months. Just as animals in cold climates huddle together to keep warm, the chairs cluster around a fellow seat, the lifeguard stand.”



Driftwood Throne, by Daniel Madeiros of DM_Studio


“The modest lifeguard stand is decorated with a valance of reused timber, transforming it from a simple, discreet metal object on the landscape to a strong, faceted sculptural form.”



WingBack, by Tim Olson of Bensonwood Designers

“A vibrantly stained semi-circular form is sited south-facing to capture solar energy. The bench seat confi­guration gathers the warmth of co-occupants while the tall walls provide shelter from north winter winds.”



Snowcone, by fourth-year Ryerson Architectural Science students Diana Koncan and Lily Jeon

“A playful outdoor project that mimics the protective organic form of the pinecone and borrows the simple, effective technology of the native igloo.”


Hot Box, by Michaela MacLeod of Polymétis Architecture and Nicholas Croft

“Entering from the harsh landscape through a cold, dark, rubber exterior, one finds themselves in an insulated, soft, muffled and light-filled space that conjures feelings of shelter, intimacy, quietude.”


Learn more at Torontoist.

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