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Hotel Liesma

Jurmala, Latvia

Bild, in collaboration with INDEX Architecture, has completed a proposal for a new hotel on the beach side of a resort in Jurmala, Latvia. The design is located a short walk from the beachfront and includes 130 rooms, a restaurant, conference and health club facilities. The brief called for a design based around the theme of music that reused an existing tower on the site. The ground floor is to be constructed from a curved timber LVL framed roof structure, which was drawn from the waveforms of Handel’s ‘Water Music.’ The tower reuses the existing concrete structure with a new curtain wall featuring a white ceramic interlayer pattern.
The human experience of nature’s rhythms; the ocean, the wind, is intrinsically tied to music, with these natural frequencies, resonating at some level within us. The coastline and surrounds of the hotel site is in many ways a musical landscape, both in terms of its aural qualities (the sounds of wind and waves) but also in its natural forms – the shapes of waves and sand dunes physically capturing their frequency; their natural music.

Waveform captures this notion of natural music; translating a musical sample to physical form, one that echoes and harmonizes with this coastal landscape ‐ a building that is both physically and poetically embedded in its landscape. The point of departure for the project is the opening sequence of Handel’s ‘Water Music’, a piece expressive of the power and majesty of the ocean. This musical sample was graphically visualized and then used in a variety of forms throughout the design. The graphic visualization, or Waveform, is aligned to the site and extruded to provide the roof shape and undulating ceilings of the hotels public spaces. Viewed from the exterior these forms the white dunes of Jurlama’s coastal landscape.

The existing site of hotel has a number of significant trees and other vegetation that is well worth preserving. The key site strategy is to identify these key moments, and celebrate them The key site strategy for the project was identifying where to locate the building, but rather identifying where not to build – moments of preservation within the site. These zones are subtracted from the extruded wave form, creating courtyards within the building, drawing light deep into the floor plate and providing entry and car parking facilities.

Although the ground level public areas of the building appear formally dynamic, the construction technology to achieve this effect is conventional and therefore cost effective. The waveform roof is a simple extrusion along the short axis of the building, allowing for the use of curved Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) beams and a simple column grid as the primary structure, supporting timber roof purlins, layered plywood and roofing membrane as the roofing surface. Insulation appropriate to the climatic conditions to be integrated into the roof construction to ensure thermal comfort and the environmental performance of the building.

The tower façade translates the Waveform motif vertically, though the application of a ‘fritted’ ceramic interlayer embedded in the glass. Although an extremely conventional glass curtain wall, with all the advantages of ease of construction, integration of insulation and cost, the façade is strikingly original and visually arresting.

Design Team: Ben Milbourne (Bild Architecture), John Doyle, Laura Mártires, Edmund Carter (Studio Inex)

Status: Competition
Project Year: 2011