Contest project.


Roman Leonidov, Svetlana Fiantseva, Pavel Sorokovov

3D Graphics

Pavel Sorokovov




The project was designed with an eye on traditional organic architecture; its objective was to completely blend in with the natural setting. Although Latvia has a number of big cities, such as Riga, Daugavpils and Ventspils, the prevailing part of the country are flat rural plains merging with the sea-line. Large areas of Latvia are covered by woods and rivers and unaffected by the human footprint. This wilderness is a perfect place for walking trips and hikes.

Trekking rest stops are situated next to one of the most scenic parts of the E-9 European Coastal Path The Amberway runs through 11 European countries and is 4,800 km long, out of which Latvian coast takes 530 km. This is also the longest walking trail in Europe. The path has acquired its name as a homage to one of the Latvian traditional symbols - amber bits, or "tears of the sea" as the local fisherman call it, that can still be found along the coast of the Baltic Sea. The trekking trail stretches all through the country from Lithuania to Estonia.

Amber Road, contest project, Roman Leonidov Architects
Functionally, the project has been based on the traditional Baltic dwelling type - a three-part drying barn. The building has a light one-story form consisting of three independent sections: sanitary zone, open terrace and a bedroom, all of which can be combined together or used as separate modules. Given the rich Latvian forests, traditionally, wood was the most common construction material in the country. In line with the local traditions, we have also chosen wood as the prevailing construction and finish material for our project.

The choice of the building form large and by has been dictated by the natural environment (land form), but was also founded on our desire to make the dwelling comfortable, notwithstanding its "folk roots". Our intention to make the construction cost-effective, eco-friendly and super-efficient inspired the usage of a cubic form as a morphic prototype. Cube is the most energy- and material-conserving form. The cubic shape has then been transformed into a trapezium since the pitched roof corresponds with the local heritage and serves as the best way to protect the building from the weather and reduce the heat loss. Additionally, the building finish lacks any decor and contains nothing more than necessary.

Amber Road, contest project, Roman Leonidov Architects
The building is executed in the frame-and-panel technique utilizing modern materials and construction methods. For the frame we have selected coniferous laminated timber. MHM walls serve as the frame infilling. Such technique eliminates the usage of glue and other chemical substances during the assembly process. The pre-manufactured wall sections considerably reduce the time required for assembly and are 30 percent more heat-conserving than a similar laminated beam solution - for the lack of junction gaps. The sections do not require any additional antiseptic treatment. The frame is treated onsite with fire retarders and antiseptics. All metal fixture elements are zinc-coated or anodized - this significantly increases their durability. MHM walls account for soundproofing, protection against the elements and have excellent fire safety characteristics. The assembly of the sections is not confined by the frost-free season.
Amber Road, contest project, Roman Leonidov Architects
The maintenance cost and efforts of the proposed construction are minor: larch wood and pine wood are recommended materials. It is eco-friendly, durable, is immune to rot and responds well to stress.

Wood breakage from the neighboring forests can be used to produce decorative or small architectural forms (benches, playgrounds, recreational stops). In such cases, all timber should be acquired in compliance with the national legislation and the international program of voluntary forest certification (i.e. FSC or PEFC), and principles of sustainable forestry. Latvian forests are its national treasure, and Latvia itself is one of the greenest countries in the world.

Trekking cabin blocks along the hiking trail are located mainly on the coast, on the forest fringe, or at the river mouths and have their own independent entrances. On the most popular locations of the route we suggest to compile camping grounds consisting of several different blocks, approximately 15-20 people per site. In all other parts of the trail the cabins can be used as needed.

The construction of the building is designed to leave minor footprint on the landscape due to its screw-piled foundation and minimal excavation works. All foundation elements are produced onsite: for the main unit, sanitary section and the terrace, four, six and seven piles are required, respectively. The base of the terrace consists of timber beams installed on the screw piles. After the initial works are completed, the trekking cabin block can be delivered to the construction site fully assembled or in sections (where required). In the remote areas without road access we propose to deliver the construction materials and the pre-manufactured sections by sea or river and then assemble them onsite. The assembly time takes approximately three days.

The purpose of the trekking houses is to provide their guests with a comfortable and safe stay. Each section has a small terrace and an awning. When three modules are combined together into a single unit, it results in spacious recreational outdoor environment and private bedroom facilities which provides for a comfortable long stay. Common and private areas are separated, and though moderate in size, are quite homey.

The total floor space of the sanitary section is 8.4 sq.m., of the terrace - 21.35 sq.m., and of the bedroom section - 17.23 sq.m. The total floor space of the three modules compiled together is 47 sq.m., out of which the terrace takes up 19 sq.m. The usable floor area of the sanitary section is 5 sq.m., of the terrace - 12.7 sq.m., and of the bedroom module - 10.3 sq.m.

The sanitary section is equipped by a sink and a compost toilet. The system is independent and does not require complex engineering solutions. Peat components of the compost toilet provide freedom from sewage and water systems and account for waste breakdown and blocking the smell. Besides, the buildings are naturally ventilated. In the warm seasons the rainwater is being collected on the rooftop and diverted to a tank located over the woodpile and further to the sink. In the wintertime, the water reserves can be refilled by means of the melted snow.

In the center, the terrace is fitted with an isolated fireplace and a heating umbrella that can be used for cooking outside. It is surrounded by benches with placeholders for dry firewood. Next to the fireplace, there is a space that can be used for drying the clothes and equipment. In the summertime, the separate terrace module can be used as a camping ground.

The bedroom is equipped with twin two-tier beds. At the first-tier level there is a folding table that can be used as a dining area. Bedroom and sanitary section walls have a heat insulation component which makes them comfortable for accommodation all year round. In the cold weather, the building can also be heated by portable infra-red heaters eliminating the danger of the open fire. For a "genuine" hiking experience, you can also use fire-heated rocks.

For construction of the sanitary section, you will need 2.5 cubic meters of timber and one day for installation. The total weight of the completed module is 1.8 tons and the R-value is 1.35 sq.m./kW.

The bedroom section requires 4.3 cubic meters of timber, one day for installation and weighs 3.5 tons.

Finally, the terrace construction needs 2.7 cubic meters of timber, one day for installation and weighs 1.9 tons.