Winners announced in design competition for Latvian blue clay spa

The winner has been announced in an architecture competition to design a rural spa and guest house in Kurzeme, Western Latvia.

The Blue Clay Country Spa contest, organised by organising company Bee Breeders, invited architects of all experience levels to present ideas for a spa and guesthouse in a remote natural forest, famed for its blue clay.

They were tasked with envisioning “the economic, cultural, and architectural implications of inhabiting the non-urban site” as an ecotourist hub, incorporating a garden, a courtyard, a shed and a pavilion.

Shape, material and form had to successfully “interrogate the inherent tensions between building and site,” where physical entry is currently limited to only one dirt road.

The winning design was created by Portuguese architects João Varela, Ana Isabel Santos, João Tavares and Paulo Dias, who know may be put forward to oversee construction of the spa. Their concept revived around the reprogramming of the walled garden.

The winning concept
The competition jury’s citation

“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 (walled garden) pursues a new type of ecotourism, one in which the spatial diagram of the spa enables a new environmental, cultural, and social agency.”

Second place went to Graham Burn, Alex Turner, and Will Fisher of design studio PUG, and third place was awarded to Miroslava Brooks and Amy DeDonato.

The three winners will share a prize fund of US$20,000 (€18,400, £15,800).

The three entries can be viewed in more detail here.

Bee Breeders  spa design  Latvia  Blue Clay County Spa  architecture 
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Competition launched to design Latvian blue clay spa

The winner has been announced in an architecture competition to design a rural spa and guest house in Kurzeme, Western Latvia. The Blue Clay Country Spa contest, organised by organising company Bee Breeders, invited architects of all experience levels to present ideas for a spa and guesthouse in a remote natural forest, famed for its blue clay. They were tasked with envisioning “the economic, cultural, and architectural implications of inhabiting
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The winning design was created by Portuguese architects João Varela, Ana Isabel Santos, João Tavares and Paulo Dias / Bee Breeders
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