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Competition: Ozolini meditation cabins, Latvia

An open international contest has been announced for a series of off-the-grid 15m² meditation cabins in rural Latvia (Deadline: 23 October)

The competition seeks ‘eco-friendly and cost-effective’ proposals for an easily replicable hut which could be constructed in several forested locations and provide users which a calm space to meditate surrounded by the sounds of nature.

The Silent Meditation Forest Cabins project, organised by Bee Breeders in collaboration with Ozolini Teamakers, will deliver a series of cabins on the remote Ozolini estate located around 100 kilometres from the capital, Riga. Proposals must be mosquito proof and comfortable for one visitor for up to five days.

The Ozolini estate in rural Latvia

The Ozolini estate in rural Latvia

The Ozolini estate in rural Latvia

According to the brief: ‘The competition participants are asked to create designs for a cabin that could be replicated in any number of spots throughout the forest. The cabin’s main purpose is to help guests enjoy silent meditation, where the only sounds they would hear would be the sounds of nature. The silent meditation cabins would need to be able to accommodate just a single person, and offer them basic and humble living conditions.

‘With competition winners being put forward for consideration for construction, designs for the Silent Meditation Forest Cabins should focus on eco-friendly and cost-effective building techniques. As Latvia has a reputation as one of Europe’s greenest countries, the structure should have the potential to become a regional example of green building practice.’

With around 54 per cent of its land covered in forest, Latvia is home to a diverse ecosystem, which includes rare black storks, otters, beavers, lynx, and wolves; as well as large numbers of deer, wild boar, elk and red fox. Protected wildlife zones account for approximately a fifth of the country.

Eco-tourism is a growing trend in the region, and Bee Breeders previously launched separate competitions for a guesthouse and spa offering blue-clay treatments in rural western Latvia; an observation tower at the Pape Nature Park; and a meditation retreat in the eastern region of Vidzeme.

The Ozolini estate in rural Latvia

The Ozolini estate in rural Latvia

The Ozolini estate in rural Latvia

The latest competition aims to create a new retreat facility for the growing numbers of city-dwellers keen to reconnect with nature and relax in the wilderness. The contest site is the Ozolini estate where company founders Brigita and Dima Lukini produce organic teas.

Proposals should provide comfortable accommodation for a single person for up to five days and include a meditation space and be suitable for use in all seasons. Concepts will be expected to feature food and water storage, off-the-grid lighting solutions, a heating system and a compost toilet.

The competition language is English and anonymous submissions should include four A2-sized display boards featuring plans, sections, elevations, diagrams and renders.

The overall winner, to be announced on 18 December, will receive a $3,000 prize while a second prize of $1,500, third prize of $500, student prize of $500 and green prize of $500 will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The registration deadline is 23 October and submissions must be completed by 19 November

Fee

Advance registration from 23 June to 3 August: $120
Last minute registration from 4 August to 23 October: $140

Contact details

Email: hello@beebreeders.com

Visit the competition website for more information

Black Hat case study: Q&A with Niall Maxwell

The founder of Rural Office for Architecture discusses lessons learned designing a ‘glamping’ cabin for Wales

How did your project deliver an appropriate off-the-grid cabin for its location in Wales?

We have delivered an easily transportable structure that is simple to erect and is relatively lightweight. As a tented structure, these facilities are not year-round use but are designed for the tourist season. Aesthetically, the form of the structure is a clearly recognisable Welsh symbol, synonymous with the culture and traditions of the nation.

Black Hat by Rural Office for Architecture

Black Hat by Rural Office for Architecture

Black Hat by Rural Office for Architecture

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

The combination of local and national craftsmanship, together with the use of traditional and state of the art construction methods, has been the main contributing factor to the finished design. The use of locally sourced materials, such as the spruce poled frame, meant we worked with what was close at hand and within our means.

We began by researching traditional tipi and yurt structures, before experimenting with incorporating them together as a hybrid design. Our materials reflect the traditional requirements, all the timber elements of the build had been sourced locally and are indicative of the available local skills. The demountable canvas skin along with the clear uPVC lantern where made locally using specialists in tensile tent structures.

Black Hat by Rural Office for Architecture

Black Hat by Rural Office for Architecture

Black Hat by Rural Office for Architecture

As the traditional Welsh hat isn’t pointed like a witch’s hat, we needed to develop a series of ring beams that would provide the required shape and much-needed stability to the timber frame. Working alongside a local craftsman who assisted with the design, the form and assembly began to take shape.

What advice would you have for participants on designing off-the-grid cabins for rural Latvia?

Researching existing local and regional typologies will allow the entrants to better understand a number of regional conditions, be it climate, altitude, logistics or build-ability. Local construction techniques and skills can be an invaluable asset when designing, such techniques have been adapted specifically to the region and as such shouldn’t be overlooked. Additionally, although a factor that shouldn’t drive your design proposals, designing to budget, should be considered throughout the process as costs can quite quickly get out of hand. Architects do have a tendency to get carried away with conceptual ideas forgetting the practical implications of the build.

Black Hat by Rural Office for Architecture

Black Hat by Rural Office for Architecture

Black Hat by Rural Office for Architecture