Seeking Shelter: Patkau Architects' Winnipeg Wind Breakers

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Winters in Winnipeg can be rough, but the designers at the Patkau Architect firm have come up with a creative solution that can help outdoor enthusiasts catch a break from the cold while enjoying winter sports.

Each plywood structure bends to form a tapered cone that serves as a wind breaking reprieve for those huddled inside.

The designers explain that the idea behind the shelters is to "learn to celebrate winter - learning to take advantage of the opportunities that winter provides." An good reminder for those among us who have been braving the long winter that there are benefits to getting out there and enjoying the beauty that the season has to offer.

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.
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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).
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These are delicate and 'alive' structures. They move gently in the wind, creaking and swaying to and fro at various frequencies, floating precariously on the surface of the frozen river, shaking off any snow that might adhere to their surfaces. Their fragile and tenuous nature makes those sheltered by them supremely aware of the inevitability, ferocity and beauty of winter on the Canadian prairies.
Read More: • Pleat FarmPatkau Architects

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(Images: Pleat Farm)

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