Kemeri National Park in western Latvia was established in 1997 to protect 380 square kilometers of land that includes forests, lakes, natural mineral springs and marshlands. The Great Kemeri Bog is a popular destination within the park, where visitors come to walk along several kilometers of existing boardwalks, allowing them to discover the many unique aspects of this vast expanse of wetlands, its collection of wildlife, and its variety of plant species. The protection of this land is managed by the Latvia Nature Conservation Agency, a partner organization in this design competition that expressed interest in constructing the winning proposal.
Competition participants were asked to deliver design proposals for a buildable observation structure situated along the boardwalk system, that would allow visitors new ways to view and experience the Great Kemeri Bog. While there were no dimensional requirements or height limitations prescribed, the recommended budget for the project was US $50k. Programmatic requirements included wheelchair accessibility for the disabled, as well as the use of construction materials that are easily maintainable and durable, considering the bog’s humid environment. The competition also challenged submissions to rethink the current boardwalk infrastructure for its replacement by a modular, more accessible design. The jury evaluated entries based on their constructability, accessibility, sensitivity to the environment, and the potential for the designs to provide Kemeri National Park with a new architectural landmark.
The entries proposed a wide range of ideas, with a variety of structural materials and forms. Modularity was integral in many of the submissions, as was ease of construction with minimal disturbance to the protected natural site. Several of the projects proposed enclosed or semi-concealed observation spaces in consideration of the bog’s wildlife. While most submissions included a system of ramps to permit elevated views, some experimented with the use of mirrors or periscope lenses, and others with the integration of manual lifts.
Each of the winning entries is deemed to be constructable, with the potential to become an important architectural landmark and to perform as a new observation point for the Great Kemari Bog. The high quality of the winning projects as well as the honorable mentions reflects the outstanding level of work submitted. Bee Breeders would like to thank all entrants for their participation.
Jury feedback summary
The jury was impressed by the “funambulist landscape”, the title of this proposal. Three stories of light-structured ramps are hung within a clean timber grid. A visitor walking up into this structure would experience a “new sequence of relationships” among the landscape, flora, and fauna. The result is a well-designed project that is integrated within the bog boardwalk. Its components could easily be prefabricated offsite. Given the scale of the structure, the jury wonders if the project as shown could be constructed without the use of heavy equipment and suggests the exterior framework be segmented into smaller timber elements. The project’s simple structure makes it easily adaptable and scalable. The submission drawings are beautifully executed and clear in their design intent.