Kew Beach, Toronto
with Diana Koncan
support from Ryerson DAS & DFZ
Snowcone is a fusion of the shape of a pine cone and the science of an igloo, with a splash of summer.
It was designed and built by Lily Jeon and Diana Koncan with the support & help of Ryerson's Department of Architectural Science. It was one of five winning designs part of the inaugural Toronto Winterstations competition created by RAW design, with Ferris+Associates and Curio Art Co. As a temporary public urban installation, it was anchored to one of the metal lifeguard stations on Kew Beach in winter 2015.
Toronto constantly struggles with the challenge of polar extremes in weather, and designing for both summer and winter conditions. Snowcone playfully reanimates the Lake Ontario lifeguard chairs, which serve no purpose during the winter months. It encourages members of the community as well as visitors to the city to explore and celebrate our magnificent winter beach landscape.
The design transforms in response to Toronto’s unpredictable winter weather. In sunny weather, its tinted acrylic shell filters in colourful light and collects it for warmth, like a greenhouse. The bright colours evoke playfulness and summery warmth. In stormy weather, its cupped petals collect snow and use it to help insulate the interior, like an igloo. Visitors can crawl into the cavity through a low opening, an action that is reminiscent of entering an igloo. They can crawl up the lifeguard chair, transforming it from a utilitarian structure to a playful one.
The asymmetrical structure appears wind-swept, expressive of the windy beach climate. Inspired by the protective nature of a pine cone’s open and closed state, petals are angled up to protect the structure on the southwest windward side, and angled down to open up views of the other Winterstations installations and to the boardwalk on the northeast side.
Due to the temporary nature of the installation and the challenge of having to be installed out in the cold in a minimal amount of time, it was designed to be constructed of repetitive, modular units and simple fasteners. The material palette is composed of 1/4 inch steel conduit pipe, white Komatex, tinted 3 mm acrylic, zip-ties, and nuts and bolts. The design was 3D modeled on Rhino3D. The built installation was digitally and manually fabricated in-house for 4 weeks, then re-assembled on site in 8 hours in -20 C weather with a team of 15 students (special shout-out to Frank Bowen's dream workshop team, and super supervisor Vincent Hui). Digital fabrication tools used included a CNC router for fabrication, and a 3D printer for prototyping.
- Featured in the Phaidon publication, "Nanotecture".
- 2015 Toronto Urban Design Award of Excellence, Student Category.
- Displayed at Vinterbyen (The Wintercity) exhibition in Copenhagen.
- Part of 2016 Winterstations competition jury committee.
- Featured in Ryerson University Mind & Action campaign.
- Exhibitor at 2015 Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery Conference.