Jury feedback summary
The success of the second place proposal for the Blue Clay Country Spa competition lies in its strong response to the site and its playful reinterpretation of vernacular form. The project consists of a primary linear structure: a thatched roof longhouse spanning from the forest edge to the lake and rooted in the traditional Kurzeme typology typical of the region. A second linear element - a strip of productive landscape containing gardens, outdoor dining, a pool, and other ecological services - intersects the longhouse at an angle and divides the site into disparate quadrants. Within the structure, a series of whimsical follies contain the program and the remaining space is effectively open to the outdoors, creating a blurred threshold between landscape and interior. This linear parti, combined with the calculated rhythm of enclosed elements, define an interior procession from the forest to the lake, while the porosity of the structure allows for visitors to filter into the landscape. The strength of the linear strategy is further emphasized by the scale of the traditional thatched roof, forming a long opaque bar against the backdrop of trees, isolating the separated landscape spaces and creating peaceful, intimate realms while allowing permeation through the building and its inner world.
Jury feedback summary
The first place entry for the Blue Clay Country Spa is successful in its reprogramming of a spatial archetype, the hortus conclusus, or walled garden. The primary gesture of the project is a circular promenade that unites each functional space of the spa. The wall circumscribes an interior garden and orchard, enclosing the spa with a colonnade that functions both as wall and social space. This formal armature of the circle allows each room of the spa - sauna, public bath, and guest house - to individually reflect its unique programmatic demands without detracting from the unifying identity of the project. Each space, simply detailed with native woods and exposed structure, fulfills the particular programmatic requirements of water, heat, light, privacy, and views. This circular space of ambulation marks the territory of the spa while still retaining the trace of the clearing in the forest, perpetuating the memory of Baltic vernacular architecture. With an ethos of minimal interference and simplicity, this hortus conclusus pursues a new type of ecotourism, one in which the spatial diagram of the spa enables a new environmental, cultural, and social agency.