International Architecture Competition

Ghost Town Challenge

Results

Foreword

Competition organisers

Ghost Town Challenge

Bee Breeders architecture competition organisers, in collaboration with the City Council of Liepaja, Latvia and a collection of regional artists, has called for designers to submit visionary ideas for the revitalisation of the small but historically significant coastal Latvian town - Karosta.

This former military headquarters was constructed first under the Russian Empire at the turn of the 20th century, and later functioned as a Soviet naval base until its population of 20,000 deserted the town in the 1990s with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. While many of its buildings have fallen into disrepair, the built skeleton of Karosta serves as an important record of a very specific form of military architecture and planning. The town features such buildings as the St. Nicholas Orthodox Marine Cathedral, the Karosta Prison, military bunkers and Soviet-era housing blocks near to the sea and a man-made warship canal. While the site has become a destination for tourists and artists, many wish to more actively revive Karosta’s community life and restore its buildings.

Over 160 submissions were received offering ideas for a multi-purpose cultural complex at the heart of Karosta, with the potential to generate increasing population and further tourism for this town of about 6,000 inhabitants situated 10 kilometres north of Liepaja. The requested program includes an exhibition hall, a library, conference centre, recreational areas, and spaces for retail and restaurants. Designers could choose to respect the City Council site requirements, but were also given the opportunity to present visionary ideas that worked outside of these requirements. An international jury has chosen, after much deliberation, three winning submissions to be awarded a total of US $10,000.

1st Prize Winner

Project name

GHOST TOWN CHALLENGE

Authors

Fabien Grousset
Hélène Besson
Julien Colom
Guillaume Friolet

France

Jury commentary

Taking cues from former Soviet bunker design, the proposal reinterprets the heavy and closed concrete form as an open centre for civic activity, elegantly incorporating light, landscape and public space at a variety of scales. The jury was impressed with the submission’s professionalism, and the clarity and refinement of its diagrams. The project successfully made use of the entire site, and the judges appreciate its flexibility, offering the types of open space necessary for community life - the internal arrangement of functions has the capacity to engage the visitor with a range of activities, and its multi-purpose hall is effective as an indoor urban plaza. The proposal is smart in its simplicity, and certainly seems executable. One can imagine its potential for becoming an exciting new cultural core for Karosta and the surrounding region.

2nd Prize Winner

Project name

GHOST TOWN CHALLENGE

Authors

Gilles Retsin
Isaie Bloch

United Kingdom

Jury commentary

Both the architectural expression and the programming of this proposal made it stand out as an especially creative and rooted response. Its function is paradoxical to its form: a radical, symbolic monument that re-imagines the coastal concrete bunker; yet programmed with civic commonplace amenities including a canteen, a daycare center, and a workshop. It flips the city center inside-out, proposing to infuse the larger-scale ‘cultural’ spaces – a museum, a conference centre – into the existing fabric in need of renovation. The architecture combines heavy concrete with lighter gilded elements to integrate materials from both the Soviet-era blocks and the Russian-Empire Orthodox Church in a controlled, fragmented way that recalls deconstructivist design methods.

3rd Prize Winner

Project name

GHOST TOWN CHALLENGE

Authors

Johann Bertelli
Gustavo Deleu Nogueira
Julie Deglesne

France

Jury commentary

A truly realisable proposal, the ‘Light Core’ engages its surroundings quietly and respectfully. The design in plan and section clearly pays homage to the cathedral towards its south, while utilising sun orientation to offer a string of naturally lit interior spaces that starkly differentiates the new cultural centre from Karosta’s solid concrete constructions. The jury valued the articulate presentation of this submission and the clarity of its design. The angled position of the main form establishes a strong site organization that breaks from yet connects the otherwise rigid East-West and North-South blocks nearby, and this positioning is enhanced by embedding the building into a constructed wooden landscape of outdoor event and gallery spaces.

Honorable mentions

VIEWclose HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Project Name

GHOST TOWN CHALLENGE

Country

Chile

Project authors

Diego Perez

Project Name

GHOST TOWN CHALLENGE

Country

Italy

Project authors

Stefano Privitera
Francesco Quadrelli

Project Name

GHOST TOWN CHALLENGE

Country

Latvia

Project authors

Dace Gurecka

Project Name

GHOST TOWN CHALLENGE

Country

United States

Project authors

Jonathan Palazzolo
Antonia Wai

Project Name

GHOST TOWN CHALLENGE

Country

Latvia

Project authors

Uldis Amars
Reinis Predelis
Liva Vilcina
Anna Vaivare

Project Name

GHOST TOWN CHALLENGE

Country

Germany

Project authors

Hansjörg Göritz
Melissa Morris
Brandon McCloy

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Competition results

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