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Calgary’s inaugural Winter City design competition winners announced

Coming soon to Stephen Avenue will be two new works of public art and design that embrace Calgary as a winter destination.

The City of Calgary announced that Wowie and Infinito were the winning projects for the inaugural Winter City Design Competition.

Ten teams submitted entries for consideration in the contest.

“The two winning designs will each bring something new and exciting to liven up Stephen Avenue during our coldest months,” said Kate Zago, an urban planner with the City of Calgary. Zago has been leading the competition for the City of Calgary.

“We’re really, really excited to have been chosen to be one of the winners,” said Julian Warring, a principal landscape architect with The Tula Project and part of the Wowie team.

Wowie and Infinito will be installed on Stephen Avenue in February. Each project team is being given $10,000 to realize their designs.

Wowie will be located at Centre Street, and Infinito will be located on 2 Street SW. They will remain there for the duration of the Chinook Blast festival.

Out of Bounds

The theme for the competition this year was "Out of Bounds."

The City described the theme as allowing Calgarians to take steps towards restoring social interaction after physical and mental barriers were put up against that over the past few years.

Warring said that it was extremely important to have quality public spaces, especially right now during the pandemic.

"We can kind of start to see things shutting down again, and so having these high-quality outdoor spaces that draw people out of their house, and provide opportunities for people to connect is extremely important," he said.

"It is super important that we have high-quality outdoor spaces that people can enjoy and connect with each other because they're not able to do that right now in their in their homes."

Infinito, an entry for the Winter City Design Competition, was revealed to be one of two winners on Friday, January 7, 2021.


The goal of the design competition was to push the boundaries of what public spaces could look like in Winter.

"We’re extremely delighted to bring these designs to life in February and create two new great public spaces for Calgarians to experience,” said Zago.

Infinito will consist of a tunnel of lights with infinity mirrors installed on the ceilings inside. The exterior of the tunnel will feature designs of the Calgary Tower, Wild Roses, and cartoon grizzly bears.

The design was created by a team consisting of Bosco Chik, Charlie Jiang, Christian Icuspit, William Zhuang, and Karim Kandi.

The materials used by Infinito have been chosen for sustainability, with the sizing and type of wood selected chosen for minimal cutting and complete reuse. None of the material is expected to end up in landfills.

Wowie, an entry for the Winter City Design Competition, was revealed to be one of two winners on Friday, January 7, 2021.


Wowie will consist of an interactive and accessible experience using lights, glow-in-the-dark paint, and play platforms.

Warring said that there would be a few additional surprise interactive elements.

"I'm not going to give that away because that's for the public to kind of figure out on their own—that's part of the fun," he said.

All of Wowie's platforms are below specific fall heights, encouraging play. One of the platforms will also include a ramp so that individuals using mobility devices like wheelchairs can interact with the design.

"Part of our design process was to have an adolescent youth lead the design because oftentimes that demographic design can be out of bounds for them," said Warring.

"It is not often that adolescent youth get to participate in the design process for a real project that has the potential to be constructed and installed," he said.

"We included Seeton [Naested] throughout the whole design process, and the result is it was one of the winning ones, so it was very exciting."

Wowie's team was made up of Seeton Naested, Julian Warring, Kelsi Hurlbut, Audrina Lim, Alison Maclachlan, and John Rivera with support from Unique Projects, Optics Lighting and Controls, and Christie Lites.

Design contest

The Winter City Design Competition was put on by the City of Calgary, along with the University of Calgary's School of Artchitecture, Planning and Landscape.

The contest was part of the City's Future of Stephen Avenue Active + Experiment project and Winter City plan.

For more details on all of the submissions to the competition, see the Winter City Design Competition website.