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Competition: Pape Bird Observation Tower, Latvia

An open international competition has been announced for a new observation tower in Pape Nature Park, Latvia (Deadline: 29 September)

Open to everyone and organised by Bee Breeders, the anonymous competition seeks ‘cost-effective, environmentally responsible and energy-efficient’ proposals for a new bird-watching tower to replace an earlier structure which burnt down after being struck by lightning.

The project, backed by local wildlife charity and World Wildlife Foundation partner Pasaules Dabas Fonds, is the first in a series of commissions planned to upgrade the 10,000ha coastal nature park. The top entries will be considered for construction by the organisation, which is planning to complete the project next year.

Contest site: Pape Nature Park, Latvia

Contest site: Pape Nature Park, Latvia

Contest site: Pape Nature Park, Latvia

According to the brief: ‘Participants are tasked with delivering designs for a new bird observation tower that is sensitive to the unique environment in which it will be located, while at the same time, has the potential to become an iconic landmark in its own right.

‘Although the competition has no set budget, participants are recommended to create designs in keeping with a modest budget of US $50k-100k.’

With around 54 per cent of its land covered in forest, Latvia is home to a diverse eco system, which includes rare black storks, otters, beaver, 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 a separate competition for a guesthouse and spa offering blue-clay treatments in rural western Latvia and for a meditation retreat in the eastern region of Vidzeme.

Pape Nature Park, Latvia

Pape Nature Park, Latvia

Source: Image by Gaston Lacombe

Pape Nature Park, Latvia

The Pape Nature Park was created in 2003 on a large wetlands site overlooking the Baltic Sea in south-west Latvia. The reserve features five distinct eco-systems and is home to around 50,000 migrating birds and large herbivores such as horses, auroxen and bison.

The new structure is planned for a prominent site overlooking Lake Pape. The contest seeks low-maintenance proposals for a maximum 11m-high structure featuring two 9m² observation decks and a 50m-long access footbridge. Concepts should require minimal underground works and consider the lack of road access to the lakeside site.

The competition language is English and all winning and honourable mention designs will be considered for construction. Digital submissions should include four A2 boards featuring sketches, renderings, plans, sections, elevations, diagrams and a short textual description.

The overall winner, to be announced on 16 November, will receive USD $3,000 while a second place prize of $1,500 and third place prize of $500 will also be awarded along with student award and green award worth $500 each.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 11.59pm GMT on 25 October

Fee

Early bird registration from 9 May to 9 June: $90 ($70 for students)
Advance registration from 10 June to 26 July: $120 ($100 students)
Last minute registration from 27 July to 29 September: $140 ($120 students)

Contact details

Email: hello@beebreeders.com

Visit the competition website for more information

Lommel Lookout Tower case study: Q&A with Bram Hurkens

The architect at Ateliereen Architecten discusses lessons learned designing a nature observation tower in Belgium

How did your project deliver an appropriate observation tower for its setting in Belgium?

The name of the area – Lommelse Sahara – inspired the façade design of the tower, in which the wavy lines of sand dunes are recognisable. The triangular structure is wrapped with over three and a half kilometres of rope. The rope is quite heavy but also flexible, so it creates playful lines that refer to the dunes. When climbing the stairs, the visitor looks between the ropes at the scenery.

Lommel Lookout Tower in Belgium by Ateliereen Architecten

Lommel Lookout Tower in Belgium by Ateliereen Architecten

Lommel Lookout Tower in Belgium by Ateliereen Architecten

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

The large steel structure consists of triangles, which is a structurally efficient form. This principle also ensures that the shape of the tower changes from different perspectives. From some places the structure appears to be skewed.

Lommel Lookout Tower in Belgium by Ateliereen Architecten

Lommel Lookout Tower in Belgium by Ateliereen Architecten

Lommel Lookout Tower in Belgium by Ateliereen Architecten

What advice would you have to participants on designing a new observation tower for the Pape Nature Park in Latvia?

Look carefully at the surrounding landscape so that you design a tower that really fits that particular area.

Lommel Lookout Tower in Belgium by Ateliereen Architecten

Lommel Lookout Tower in Belgium by Ateliereen Architecten

Lommel Lookout Tower in Belgium by Ateliereen Architecten