Kurgi Farm is located in Latvia’s North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve, a large nature conservation area at the Estonian border that accounts for nearly 6% of Latvia’s total land area.
The farm is owned and operated by a couple that breeds Latvian Ardennes, a local species of horse that is perilously close to extinction. Kurgi Farm is one of few remaining breeding programs for the Latvian Ardennes, and home to one of the last four living studs. The Latvian Ardennes is treasured by the local community as an integral part of its cultural heritage.
As part of Kurgi’s pursuit to raise awareness and participation in the protection of the Latvian Ardennes, it seeks to attract visitors to the farm. The Kurgi Observation Tower competition called for participants to submit proposals for a viewing tower, for visitors and guests to experience and gain appreciation for the horses as well as the beautiful, rugged Baltic landscape. The proposed observation tower is to be an iconic landmark set atop a hill on the Kurgi estate, with views of the surrounding lakes, glacially formed hills, rolling plains, and forests.
The competition called for a tower limited to 35 meters in height, consisting of five storeys: four offering open views; and a top landing with an enclosed, comfortable space usable in any season, accompanied by an outdoor balcony, seating, a table, and a heat source. The structure is to be made of metal and timber, accessible to all guests, and built in a sustainable manner.
The received submissions offered an excellent mix of designs that explored the tower: functionally, as a tool for viewing; formally, as an iconic sculpture; and as a landscape element integrated with its site. Several structural concepts were put forth. The jury evaluated each submission for its responsiveness to the project brief, its quality of design, and its architectural innovation. The winners and shortlisted entries presented here boast a strong display of experimentation for fully-realizable projects.
Bee Breeders and Kurgi Farm would like to thank all designers who responded to this call for submissions.