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Architecture students fishing for bids on latest project

If you see some odd-looking ice fishing huts out on area lakes this winter, they're likely the work of Laurentian University School of Architecture students.
Laurentian University School of Architecture student Charlotte Leck shows off her ice fishing hut. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

If you see some odd-looking ice fishing huts out on area lakes this winter, they're likely the work of Laurentian University School of Architecture students.

The school's founding director, Terrance Galvin, said he wanted to give his students some hands-on experience with designing and building a small structure, and ice huts seemed like a perfect project.

“An ice hut is a small building relative to a house or a larger public building, so it's a good scale for them,” he said.

He also wanted them to build something associated with Northern Ontario culture. In future years, students will likely construct saunas and birch-bark canoes.
Before designing the project, the class took a field trip to Azilda, where they saw ice fishing huts in use.

They were given $750 for the materials to build the structures. About 600 hours of work went into each of the dozen ice fishing huts the students produced over the past month, Galvin said.

The public will get a chance to purchase the ice fishing huts from 6-9 p.m. Feb. 13, when they'll be auctioned off at the Science North cavern.

Tickets to the event, which cost $50 each, are available at Science North, Laurentian University School of Architecture reception, Fromagerie Elgin, Bertolo's, Ramakko's and Laurentian University reception.

Children get into the event for free. Besides the auction, the event features children's activities, door prizes and winter-themed refreshments.

Galvin said he hopes to raise at least $1,500 for each of the ice fishing huts, which should cover the expenses associated with the project.

One of the ice fishing huts, named Northern Lights, is a white, curved structure with a spiralling interior.

Jeremy Upward, one of the students who worked on the project, said the group was inspired by the curves found in nature, such as snow banks and shells.

As its name suggests, the ice fishing hut features LED lights in its walls so that it glows at night.

“I thought it was a good project,” Upward said. “It kind of got us to break away from the more abstract projects to actually building a space you are going to occupy.”

He said he's pretty excited that his ice fishing hut will soon be in use.

“I'll be happy to drive by and see something I built out there,” Upward said.

Another one of the ice fishing huts is inspired by a fish fin, with curved metal sides intersected with pieces of wood.

The front will be cladded with plexiglass, making the structure a place where ice fishers can get out of the cold while keeping an eye on their tip-ups.

Charlotte Leck, one of the creators of this ice fishing hut, said the project taught her about wise use of building materials and collaboration.

But the southern Ontario native said her favourite part of the project was seeing ice fishing in action in Azilda.

“I got to see a fish come out of a hole, and it was flapping around and stuff, so it was cool,” Leck said. “I saw a real-life fish on the ice. It doesn't seem like much, but I haven't even been fishing before.”