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Winter Warm-Up: An Interview with Peter Hargraves

Peter Hargraves, architect and mastermind of the Warming Huts competition, shares how winter sparks creativity.

What prompted you to mount a global design competition for warming huts?

When we moved into Osborne Village, our kids started to skate on the river trail. They would plop down into a snow bank and we would tie skates – it just seemed practical that there should be shelters. When I thought about the idea, I knew they needed to have an art component. When world renowned architect, Antoine Predock (designer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights) volunteered to do one the first year, we knew we had something.

Why was this important to you?

It matters that you are proud of where you live.

What’s the wackiest idea that worked?

The golden bison (now displayed at The Leg). It’s quirky and iconic and not just an object to look at. You can actually climb inside and often little kids discover this.

What makes Winnipeg a good place for architects?

Due to climate extremes, we have to come up with creative solutions to problems that other parts of the world don’t even have to think about! You have to be very good at what you do here to pull things off. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!

As a champion of creativity, how do you build appreciation for great design?

You must demonstrate function! You can’t create something that doesn’t work.

What are your favourite spaces in Winnipeg?

Manitoba Hydro Atrium, the inside of Precious Blood Church, and I really love the underside of the Norwood Bridge, a place only available to us when the river is frozen.

Why did you choose the Village as your home?

It’s very diverse and walkable and close to things we love. When we were in Montreal, we learned the value of living close to where you work.

What practice do you have that anyone can apply in their own life?

We often get overwhelmed by the complexity of  a problem or scale of a task. Accomplish your goals one step at a time.

What do you see in Winnipeg’s future?

I’d like to see public art play a bigger role in how downtown develops. I think it can be a powerful component to getting people to engage in outside spaces.