The award-winning Vancouver-based practice Patkau Architects has realised these sculptural temporary skating shelters in the Canadian city of Winnipeg. Executed in double-layered flexible plywood, the shelters are located at the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers which transform into miles-long skating trails during harsh winter months (Winnipeg is the coldest city of its size outside of Siberia). Each of the intimate snug-looking structures has been designed to accommodate a limited amount of skaters at a time.
From Patkau Architects:
‘Our proposal consists of a cluster of intimate shelters, each accommodating only a few people at a time. They are grouped in a small ‘village’ (or ‘herd’, or ‘school’, or ’flock’, or ‘flotilla’) to form a collective . . . of ‘something’ . . . irreducible to a single interpretation. They stand with their backs to the wind like buffalo, seeming to have life and purpose as they huddle together shielding each other from the elements.’
‘Each shelter is formed of thin, flexible plywood which is given both structure and spatial character through bending/deformation. Skins, made of 2 layers of 3/16th inch thick flexible plywood, are cut in patterns and attached to a timber armature which consists of a triangular base, and wedge shaped spine and ridge members. (The ridge is a line to negate the gravity loads of snow.) Experiments in our workshop with a full-scale prototype mapped the stresses of bending. Stress points were relieved by a series of cuts and openings. The form of the shelter is a resultant of this process of stressing/deforming and then releasing stress.’