Heading east from Collective Memory, you will come across some unremarkable white fencing. So non-descript in fact, that at a distance the installation fades from view into the sandy backdrop. The enclosure is square in shape and only has one entrance. Once you make your way in, that’s when the magic happens.
Midwinter Fire is the creation of the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design from The University of Toronto and is the first of the three faculty installations found at Winter Stations. The interior of the enclosure is filled with red, yellow and green vegetation, all species native to the region. The unremarkable fencing is coated on the inside with a mirrored film that reflects light, colour, and heat creating a welcoming environment that has the illusion of being much bigger on the inside than out. The lifeguard station makes for a welcome climbing feature, allowing the kids to feel as if they are up a tree instead of on the beach.
Midwinter Fire is meant to bring a forest environment to urban dwellers, to allow them to interact with the wild landscape as opposed to their tame backyards. Given the often antagonistic relationship that a large number of Torontonians often have in regards to wildlife, I think it’s an important reminder that we share our cities with non-human neighbours and this is what their homes should look like.
The augmented urban forest environment created by Midwinter Fire was very popular, particularly with children. Kids gravitate towards natural environments, giving them opportunities to explore and play. That is something that we often forget when creating urban green spaces. Hopefully, this installation will work as a reminder that sometimes things just need to be a little wild.
Winter Stations runs from February 20th to March 27th, 2017. Follow the boardwalk east starting at Woodbine beach.
The title for this piece comes from The Doors’ classic, Light My Fire.