Competition, honorble mention
Facing the shore of Cernostes Lake, a set of interconnected buildings hover slightly above the greenery of the east Latvian landscape. The functions are articulated as three clearly separate buildings clearly rooted in Latvian building tradition, though tied together via a cloister structure turning them from separate buildings into a unified whole.
In creating the placement and the layout of the program careful consideration has been taken to the existing trees and vegetation, prevailing winds, sun conditions, exposure of and concealment of views, the relation to the lake as well as to possible future climate related risks.
The cloister functions as both a uniter and a separator of space. A three-dimensional, inhabitable border of sorts, the cloister separates labor from leisure, the private from the common, inside and outside, while creating a clearly defined common exterior space and a unified architectural language. It’s designed as an elevated, covered walkway leading to the different entrances. The three buildings: the artists’ workshop facing north, the house facing west and the workshop and storage facing east, are tacked to its outside.
The courtyard is the first space you meet and functions as the entry point to the three buildings as well as the main gathering space where the visitors can socialize when not working, protected from the winds coming in from the lake and basking in the sun for most of the day. The courtyard is framed by an edge of gravel infiltrating rainwater falling from the roof and of plantations of local plants and flower attracting pollinators.
The project is built on familiar building techniques, repurposing of existing resources and readily available, local materials to secure a manageable project economy. It takes its point of departure in the Latvian vernacular of wooden buildings covered with thatch roof as well as in a careful inventory and dismantling of the existing buildings in order to reuse as much material as possible, primarily construction wood in sufficiently good condition and stone. Material that is in good condition but not used in the construction of the new buildings is stored in the attic of the storage buildings and can later be used for future construction projects or as an integral part of the artists’ work in the studio.
Locally sourced wood is the dominating material used for both structure and cladding, interior as well as exterior ensuring short and convenient transports and a good life-cycle energy performance while supporting local forestry economies. The primary structure is made from wooden posts and beams, exterior cladding from standing larch panel and interior cladding from pine panel. The cloister and the building interiors are painted giving them an air of more elaborate Latvian architecture traditions. Insulation made from flax, natural ventilation and the avoidance of plastics create a healthy interior climate. Touching the earth lightly and maintaining a compact footprint leave the majority of the site untouched while protecting the buildings in the case of flooding. To avoid the use of concrete, granite rocks, ideally taken directly on site, are sat on gravel beds and used as plinths that the wooden buildings rest on.