Warming Hut

UNTITLED 123456789
Warming Huts Competition 2016


The need for warmth, shelter and memory is universal. Inside and out, this warming hut is ambiguous enough to symbolize many things to many people.  This hut is part tepee, part cenotaph, part fur-trading outpost, part beaver dam, part ice-fishing shack, part grain silo, part amphitheatre and part Prairie-Pantheon.  Mostly it is a refuge that is truly warm, carved from generic foam insulation.

When you skate on a frozen river, you make an assumption: this ice is thick enough to hold my weight. This warming hut also toys with skater’s perceptual assumptions: A seemingly solid blue cube has a fluid interior. Generic blue foam insulation camouflages the hut’s quiet massing in a wintery landscape.

An asymmetrical corner entry, emblematic of modern architecture, leads to a top lit interior sphere with no sense of front/back or left/right. Contrasting with the exterior’s modernity, the interior revives the domes and pure geometries of neoclassicism.  The minimalism of the exterior is raw and unfinished, while the minimalism of the interior is cosmic. In an era where flimsy orthogonal structures dominate our lives, the clarity of antiquity’s monumental architecture is revived inside this warming hut.  The Red River and Assiniboine River played a major role in Manitoba’s fur trade, and Winnipeg was settled because of it.  Inspired by local history, furs line the interior, as a collision of nature and technology’s duelling insulations. 

The plan revives antiquity’s poché methods, where exteriors and interiors had no obligation to mirror each other. The interior is cozy enough to warm multiple skaters, and spectacular enough to inspire contemplation.

The warming hut’s contrasting interior and exterior abstracts the frozen / thawed river it rests on. Its proportions marry the familiar with the ideal.  The entrance, floor diameter and sky opening are all 6’-8”, the most common mattress length and door height for most Canadians.