Fir Hut is a warming hut for skaters on the Assiniboine River Trail in Winnipeg.
Borrowing from early Native American designs and materials, the project is a combination of ancient techniques with modern materials (including a 'pop can solar collector'), into a seamless whole.
From the Mi’kmaq people of Atlantic Canada, architect Richard Kroeker learned the technique of thatching, which we applied to local balsam fir in Winnipeg to make our roof and wall covering.
Above left, the ceramic stove. A passive solar collector, built from recycled aluminum cans (above right), Plexiglass, and a solar powered fan, push the collected warm air from collector outside the hut through ductwork under the floor, and into the ceramic stove. Oval cavities set into the stove offer a windbreak and help gloved hands to warm inside the stove.
Unfired clay stoves. Preparing to fire with help of NSCAD student George Cho (right). Zimra Beiner (not pictured) assisted me in the design and fabrication of the the stoves
Design + Build Team: Richard Kroeker & Neil Forrest
Balsam fir branches, stoneware clay, wood, rope & passive solar collector
Hut dimensions 4.5 metres L. x 2.5 m W. x 3 m H (15’ L. x 8’ W x 10’ H)
Started in 2009, Warming Huts: An Art + Architecture Competition on Ice has been melding international design and art with Winnipeg’s notably cold winters which favour river skating. Warming huts are towed to the ‘river trail’ for visitors to interact and rest for the entire skating season. Warming Huts is an open competition, supported by the Manitoba Association of Architects, has seen entries from across the globe and is reviewed in international architecture journals as well as publications like the New York Times.
© 2022 by Richard Kroeker and Neil Forrest
Photography by Neil Forrest and Richard Kroeker