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Spotlight: Divergence, 2021 GRAY Awards Finalist

A closer look at Divergence, one of three finalists in the 2021 GRAY Awards Commercial Landscape category.


Landscape design with beautiful bright pink ice path in white snow

Divergence was a temporary landscape installation for the annual Warming Huts Competition along the Red River Skating Trail in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Located at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, the Forks has been a historical meeting place for over 6,000 years. In winter, the junction of the frozen tributaries is used as an alternate route to access downtown by ice skates, skis, bicycle, and foot.

Landscape design with beautiful bright pink ice path in white snow

The installation design, by Thom Cheney Architects, consists of a lyrical pathway in a vibrant hue, set against the winter backdrop, encouraged participants to enjoy the simple pleasure of ice skating but on a more abstract surface. Undulating curves and loops that flow like eddies in the river below redirect the skater's orientation as they glide across the icy waters. Although more complex in layout, the fluctuations were created in the same manner as the traditional ice skating paths. Trails are hand-shoveled to establish routes, then reinforced with water from the river below, creating a suitable ice foundation thick enough to support the machinery maintaining the surfaces. The reddish hue used to highlight the course (chosen for the trail's namesake) was attained using a cheap, biodegradable, non-toxic, vegetable-based tracer dye applied over the ice then left to freeze. This coloring agent allowed us to emphasize the new skating lane while echoing the unique but temporary environment of the frozen rivers.


Design Team:

Thomas Cheney

Julie Hale


Sputnik Architecture

Photography: Buio Assis, Handcraft, Leif Norman,

Date: January 2021


Additional Landscape Design, Commercial finalists:

Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion

University of Cincinnati North Main Plaza

Check out the Quick List to see all of the 2021 GRAY Awards finalists!


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