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Competition: All Along the Watchtower, Cyprus

An open international contest has been launched to design a €10,000 public viewing tower on a beach near Paphos, Cyprus (Deadline: 27 October)

The competition, organised by the Cyprus School of Architecture (CYSOA), seeks conceptual designs for a 25m2 public observation structure of any height along with a lifeguard station on Geroskipou beach (pictured).

The project is part of a planned series of improvement works on the popular waterfront. Earlier this year CYSOA held a separate contest for a new Paphos Beach Shelter nearby which was won by Korean firm Kim Min Jae Architects.

Geroskipou beach

Geroskipou beach

Geroskipou beach

According to the brief: ‘The essential programmatic need is to provide a viewing tower, for the public, and a lifeguard station, however additional programs, material concerns, and aesthetic results should be decided by individual participants.

‘Entrants should take into account the potential implementation of the winning entry of the Paphos Beach Shelters Competition, as discussions to implement the scheme will begin in October.’

Geroskipou is a coastal town east of the major city of Paphos. Its population is approximately 7,000 and it is the second largest municipality in Paphos District.

The city of Paphos is about 50km west from Limassol – Cyprus’ largest port – and its urban area is home to 62,000 residents along with an international airport. As European Capital of Culture 2017, the settlement is hosting a range of cultural events until the end of September.

Paphos Beach Shelter winning scheme by Kim Min Jae Architects

Paphos Beach Shelter winning scheme by Kim Min Jae Architects

Paphos Beach Shelter winning scheme by Kim Min Jae Architects

Surrounded by many historical buildings, the popular tourist district of Paphos features a subtropical climate and was an important centre for the ancient cult of Aphrodite. The coastal town of Geroskipou is, meanwhile, famous for its five-domed Byzantine church of Agia Paraskevi, a Folk Art Museum and the production of Turkish Delight.

The latest competition is open to both solo individuals and teams of up to four members. Submissions must be in English and include one A3-sized landscape board featuring diagrams and explanations.

The winning scheme will be constructed following consultation with the local community and approval by the council. All entries will feature in an exhibition hosted by CYSOA at the Municipality Gallery in Geroskipou.

How to apply

Deadline

The registration deadline is 12.00pm (UTC+2) on 29 September
The deadline for submissions is 12.00pm (UTC+2) on 27 October

Fee

€20

Contact details

The Cyprus School of Architecture
6 Stass Paraskos Street
Lempa Village
8260 Paphos
Cyprus

Email: contact@cysoa.com

Visit the competition website for more information

Structures on the Edge Tower case study: Q&A with Matthew Springett

The co-founder of MSA-Gruff discusses lessons learned creating an observation tower for a beach in Lincolnshire, England

How did your competition-winning Structures on the Edge Tower create a unique observation facility for a Lincolnshire beach?

Our project explores the nature of the extreme environ­ment of the site: the point at which land sea and air interface in a shifting and ever-changing marine landscape. We created a viewing tower that amplifies the wind on the site and makes connections to critical parts of the landscape (the moving sands, tideline and emergent offshore wind-farm). By elevating the viewer within the site and controlling what they see and sense, a new relationship to the site is created. The project acts as one of a number of landmark projects along the coast encouraging further public exploration of this unique landscape as well as a specific waypoint to the adjacent beach access.

Structures on the Edge Tower by MSA-Gruff

Structures on the Edge Tower by MSA-Gruff

Structures on the Edge Tower by MSA-Gruff

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

MSA-Gruff is a collaboration between architects and makers Matthew Springett and Rhys Cannon. Their shared work is typically conceived through a combination of physical models, hand sketching and computer-based drawing and visualisation. For the competition we submitted a series of hand sketches that anticipated the potential of the site, followed by two models that were key to differentiating us from the other shortlisted entrants: One site model was generated from computer files the other was a detailed, technical, kinetic model that we were able to use to demonstrate how it would work.

Structures on the Edge Tower by MSA-Gruff

Structures on the Edge Tower by MSA-Gruff

Structures on the Edge Tower by MSA-Gruff

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a beach front observation tower for Cyprus?

Establish a very clear design narrative that is appropriate for the site, and present your ideas in an engaging, legible format. Always be brave enough to develop an idea that may challenge the brief and make the judges think differentially about the possibilities for the project. This, in turn, will differentiate you from the other participants. On a practical level; designing a building in a marine environment is a challenge. Research and demonstrate the appropriateness of the design and the materials you intend to use and how they will respond to volatile climatic changes it will be exposed to.

Structures on the Edge Tower by MSA-Gruff

Structures on the Edge Tower by MSA-Gruff

Structures on the Edge Tower by MSA-Gruff

Q&A with Emilio Koutsoftides

The organiser discusses his aspirations for the contest

Emilio Koutsoftides

Emilio Koutsoftides

Emilio Koutsoftides

Why are your holding a contest for a new beachfront observation tower?

The competition is part of our initiative to procure a number of different small architectural objects to gradually increase the quality of the built environment along the waterfront of Geroskipou. The competition format serves to allow the greatest possible freedom to the entrants, and hopefully to produce the widest possible variety of design proposals, resulting in something that we perhaps wouldn’t have imagined ourselves.

What is your vision for the new structure?

The new watchtower, at its most basic, should provide facilities currently served by the small lifeguard posts on the beach, as well as a public viewing tower. However, the brief allows for the introduction of additional programmes where appropriate. We hope this will result in strange hybrids, demonstrating that even small budget projects can test boundaries. The contest site is Geroskipou Municipality Beach, but the exact positioning of the tower(s) is fairly flexible. With justification, they could be placed anywhere on the beach, or perhaps even in the sea. We imagine that the winning scheme will be a radical proposal, demonstrating considerable innovation, and an excellent example of sustainable design.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

As with our previous competition, ‘Paphos Beach Shelters’, we imagine this competition will be of most interest to emerging practices and designers. The competition will provide a perhaps slightly unusual opportunity to realise a design, with the associated press exposure that this will bring. We would, of course, welcome the participation of more established practices as well.

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

The first phase of our competitions at Geroskipou beach will come to an end with this competition. The results of this and our previous competition will be exhibited on the island in the autumn, alongside negotiations with the local authority. The next phase will be launched in the autumn, with a view to repeating this process in the spring of 2018.

Are there any other viewing platform projects you have been impressed by?

I don’t think we would want to suggest a particular direction for the design, but a personal favourite is the Tower and Dreams and Longings in Trier, Germany by Hermann & Valentiny and Partners (2004).