The Silent Meditation Forest Cabins competition is an open international contest for a series of off-the-grid meditation cabins in rural Latvia. It is organised in collaboration with Ozolini, a Latvian tea company which draws on generations of knowledge and experience to create unique mixtures of herbal teas, and which opens its farm to eco-tourists as a meditative retreat.
The competition seeks eco-friendly and cost-effective proposals for an easily- constructible and -replicable 15m² hut that could be sited in a series of forested locations across the Ozolini farm. The cabins are intended to provide users which a calm space to meditate while surrounded by the sounds of nature.
Latvia is over 50 percent forested and home to a diverse ecosystem, which includes rare black storks, otters, beavers, lynx, wolves, deer, wild boar, elk, and red fox. Protected wildlife zones account for approximately a fifth of the country. The Ozolini estate is dense in natural resources, with as many as 50 species of herbal plant life per square metre. It is located 100 km from Riga, Latvia, immersed in the forest and alongside Lake Bezdibenė. Ozolini, in addition to functioning as a tea farm, hosts summer camps to explore the secrets of medicinal herbs, as well as self-awareness workshops.
Designers were asked to propose a series of cabins that have the capacity to: provide comfortable living accommodation to a single person for 4-5 days; be operational in all seasons; contain sufficient clear floor area for meditation; include small food and water storage; be mosquito proof; incorporate alternative lighting options; and include a heating system for winter months.
The winning proposals will be considered for construction, and designs for the Silent Meditation Forest Cabins were above all asked to focus on eco-friendly and cost-effective building techniques, to be models for one of Europe’s greenest countries.
Designs were judged for their integration within the forest and sensitivity to the environment. A range of ideas were submitted for cabins that have the capacity to interact with the forest in a variety of ways. The jury asked: Has the design introduced some innovative architectural idea? How has the designer made use of this particular site? Does the proposal offer a peaceful space to observe the forest, and to be both completely alone and protected from the elements?
This competition is part of a series organised by Bee Breeders focused on designs for compact living spaces integrated within nature. Recently, the website ran competitions seeking proposals for Iceland Northern Lights Rooms, European Velo Stops, and Amber Road Trekking Cabins. Bee Breeders would like to thank all entrants for their participation in the Silent Meditation Forest Cabins competition.
Jury feedback summary
‘Solo Cabin’ is an arrangement of 3 stacked spaces sized 2x2 meters and placed at various angles, a design decision which highlights the various layers of nature, allowing visitors to experience it from the forest floor to the branches of the tree canopy. The submission includes a collection of drawings and renderings that are provocative, unique, and highly developed with advanced construction details. The structure is clad in wood planks juxtaposed perpendicularly, recalling techniques found in examples of traditional Latvian architecture; it is topped by a roof of polycarbonate sheets that bring in natural daylight from above. The opaque wood shell highlights the transparent stacked windows that protrude from it and provide focus points to various surrounding forest elements. The jury questions the sole use of a hammock for sleeping, but otherwise finds the project and its graphic methods refreshing. It is a design that could be readily built.