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DAS Students’ Submission Chosen for Winter Stations 2018

3D rendering of the NEST winter station

Photo: NEST at Woodbine Beach. Credit: Henry Mai

2018 heralds the fourth annual year of Toronto’s Winter Stations Design Competition, external link. What began years ago as an exhibit to draw winter visitors to Toronto’s East Beaches has become more than just a sightseeing event. Thanks to the tireless work of the student teams, Winter Stations are engaging installations that challenge visitors to reconceptualize their notions of interactivity and design possibilities. The competition jury met in November of 2017 to choose a handful of winning teams, external link from the array of project submissions. Among the winning candidates was a team of Ryerson’s own, consisting of fourth year DAS students Adrian Chîu, Arnel Espanol, and Henry Mai. Their submission, NEST, featured on CBC, external link and Canadian Architect, external link, was chosen to stand proudly among a series of installations all adhering to the same theme.

Each year, Winter Stations contestants must follow a particular building theme, infusing their projects with carefully considered design choices that challenge convention and contribute to the overarching scope of the exhibit. Last year’s theme, Catalyst, nicely snowballed into this year’s guiding thematic principle: Riot.

RIOT: violent disturbance; uproar; outburst of uncontrolled feelings; a large or varied display.

“From one era and generation to the next, what was once within the realm of fantasy and disbelief emerges to the surface proposing alternate, often conflicting realities and ways of going forward. And go forward we must!”

Submissions had to consider how colour, form, and material adhered to this theme, and how those choices would express sentiments about our world’s political, cultural, or environmental climate. “I admire the raw emotions of anger or solidarity that would eventually result in a temporary structure be it a blockade, an effigy, or even a shelter for “occupation” demonstrations,” said Arnel Espanol, “I was inspired by how people use ready-at-hand materials to get their message across with impact. We translated this idea into the design of NEST by using readily available materials and using them in an unconventional way to create a unique form and experience.”

Adrian Chîu explained that “Our idea for our Winter Station was to create this exterior that reflected how chaotic life is from being bombarded with so much information and contrast it when you enter the calm and soothing interior – an area where you could view the world through a clear lens.”

Putting the NEST model together was the first step of actualizing their vision. Espanol noted, “At the moment when the router bit makes contact with the first sheet of plywood, it feels like all our ideas come to life.” Learning from the completed NEST model, the team then had to consider new design angles and insights. Working on the project submission was an exercise of doing justice to their own ideas. The team needed to encourage the marriage of initial concept and realistic fabrication, all while facing down the time crunch to the submission deadline.

An installation of NEST’s scale can harbour unforeseen difficulties and challenges. Despite this, project installation is one of the most compelling and satisfying aspects of the process and something that the whole team is looking forward to. “From concept design all the way to detailing and construction, it’s going to be really exciting to compare our renders with reality,” said Henry Mai.

Ultimately, Winter Stations 2018 exists to showcase that even in times of turmoil, human connection and creativity will bring us together. “For me, this project was about applying what I have learned through school and also continuing to learn from my teammates as well,” said Mai. “It’s been really fortunate to have a team that you can trust and rely on.” Their Winter Stations project was about taking their ideas above and beyond expectations, and about representing Ryerson. Their project is about giving the opportunity to fellow students to help build the structure, recreating their own past experience of helping to fabricate and install projects. It is their hope to extend this learning to other Ryerson students.

“What was really great about being selected was that it felt like a capstone project that culminated my experience here at Ryerson Architecture,” said Chîu. From ideation to creation, through successes and hardships, creating NEST together was a fitting conclusion for the team’s time spent in the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University.

Ryerson’s Winter Station will join six other installations on the East Beaches designed by teams from all over the world. Winter Stations 2018 takes place along Kew-Balmy Beach and concludes on April 1, 2018.

Team Contacts