Who says architects don’t have a sense of humour? Take a look at “The Hole Idea – Now in Technicolor” designed for Winnipeg’s annual warming hut competition by Weiss Architecture & Urbanism Limited of Toronto.
The yearly event challenges the world’s architects and designers to create freestanding windbreaks for chilled skaters along Winnipeg’s frozen Assiniboine River. Frank Gehry contributed an asymmetrical construction in 2012. Antoine Predock added his touch in 2010. The competition spawns scores of imaginative and original ideas, but perhaps none as wacky as this year’s contribution from Weiss and company.
“Cities are often too grey, too drab and too utilitarian,” says firm principal Kevin Weiss. To him, this year’s call was an invitation to create something playful and silly. His design was inspired by a 1955 Looney Tunes cartoon in which an eccentric scientist creates a portable black hole, used in subsequent episodes by the nefarious Wile E. Coyote in his never ending quest to capture the Roadrunner. No black holes for Weiss though; his holes are bright colours, blue, green and red, a nice contrast to their white surroundings. The construction was simple – a massive steel drum with smaller pipes coming out from it, much like a hedgehog, manufactured by a culvert company, wheeled into place and covered with two feet of snow so that only the very top of the colored pipes and the bright yellow opening were visible.
The Hole before it was covered in snow
Winnipegers flocked to the site before it closed last month. Children responded of course. What could be more fun than tunneling through snow? But Weiss says the firm didn’t build the structure just for kids. “Truth is, we didn’t design it specifically for children,” he says. “Bright, colorful and whimsical? For sure. Playful, engaging and delightful? Definately. But we wondered why should this be only the domain for children?”
The Ontario Association of Architects agreed. It reckoned “The Hole” can be appreciated by everybody and awarded the Toronto company its annual OAA Concept award for its unique take on form and function. The award will be presented next month in Hamilton, Ontario.