Artist Res­i­dences and Studios
Cer­nos­tes Lake, Latvia
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.