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Primordial pleasure: Skate shelters by Patkau Architects.

Photo credits: Patkau Architects.

There is a primordial quality to these obelisk-like forms, evoking great stone circles such as Stonehenge. But far from being massive and heavy, these skate shelters are rather delicate ply structures. They are however primordial, in that they provide that most basic of human need, shelter. A response to the biting Canadian winter, a reprieve for the hardiest of winter skaters.

Patkau Architects designed and built the Winnipeg Skating Shelters, the result of a competition. When the Winnipeg river froze at an unusually high level a rare urban landscape was produced. Bent-ply study models resembling stones, began to look more like animals clustering to conserve heat when they were put in relationship to the wind, sun, and each other. Suddenly, a family of shelters, whose forms began to resonate with the icy landscape and harsh climate, emerged.

These buildings were featured in Details 50 years review of architecture.

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