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The SMOKEHOUSE - Warming Hut

Aamodt Plumb Architects

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The Forks - Assiniboine Credit Union River Trail



The Forks - Assiniboine Credit Union River Trail

Project Status


Year Completed



115 sq. feet

Construction Cost

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Project Description

Aamodt Plumb Architects, a young design studio based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, saw its second completed project built this January along The River Trail at The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The firm’s SMOKEHOUSE, a collaboration with felt artist Rebecca Howdeshell, was one of three winning entries to The Warming Huts v.2013: An Art + Architecture Competition on Ice. Jury members selected designs that best “push the envelope of design, craft and art” in an open competition that drew over 100 entries. (

In responding to the harsh winter conditions of The River Trail, the design of the SMOKEHOUSE uses form and materiality to provide as well as signify shelter and warmth. The charred wood exterior alludes to the fire within while rendering it resistant to fire, rot and pests. The interior is lined with industrial wool felt, also naturally fire resistant, and provides both insulation and wind break. The felt is shingled and some of the panels are embossed by artist Rebecca Howdeshell with prehistoric imagery from the area dating back 6000 years. The primitive structure has a single small entrance and a vent hole in the roof that acts like a chimney.

“The elemental, pure form of the hut, almost the very symbol of home, rendered in the stark black of charred wood, is nestled in soft white snow. Inside, layers of thick ivory felt line the walls and seating, creating a nest-like interior reminiscent of ancient gathering places strewn with animal pelts. On closer inspection, one discovers the felt layers embossed with delicate patterns and textures, a subtle sanctification of intimate space. The room has a unique sound, or absence thereof: it is silent, like the sound of new snow on the street.” - Aamodt Plumb Architects

Response to the SMOKEHOUSE was overwhelmingly positive. One local skater wrote personally to the architects, “Thank you so much for the beautiful warming hut you placed on The Mighty Red River in Winnipeg. I try and skate the River Trail every day and always sit in your hut for a few moments. It’s stunningly beautiful and quietly embraces so much of our history and landscape... Once again, thanks for the hut and bringing joy to what has been a brutal winter. - Norma”

About Rebecca Howdeshell
Rebecca Howdeshell was born in Dallas, Texas and graduated with an MFA in Studio Art from the University of North Texas. Rebecca works predominately with industrial felt, stitching and manipulating the felt to create her artwork. Rebecca has had four solo exhibitions and has shown in many group exhibitions around the world. She has taught art at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas and Collin College in Plano, Texas. She currently lives and works in Dallas, Texas. To see more of her work visit

About Aamodt Plumb Architects
Aamodt Plumb Architects is a young, award winning design studio located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was founded in 2007 by Mette Aamodt and Andrew Plumb both graduates of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. Their projects have ranged from high-end homes to public housing renovations and art installations. Prior to founding Aamodt Plumb Architects, their experience includes residential, institutional, commercial and master planning projects.

They believe in the craft of their profession and its ability to create beauty and artistry out of fundamental needs. They work closely with clients to uncover and learn about their values, needs, and goals and approach each project with a mix of the rational and intuitive to find solutions that are beautiful, elegant and practical. They believe that the success of each project results from a collaborative design process carried out in an atmosphere of excellence and possibility.
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