HOTEL LIESMA
ARQX + CARLOS LOBÃO
JURMALA - LATVIA
2011

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION - 2ND PRIZE

JURY STATEMENT

DESIGN DESCRIPTION REPORT
When we look at the project site it is quite easy to understand the great impact of the Hotel at the Dubultu Prospekts, given as the main access. The main characteristic of this piece of territory is the strong presence of trees, forming a dense green mass; road system is a very orthodox one, with clear and simple hierarchy; then, in this grid-system filled with trees, we distinguish isolated buildings, mainly houses. The felt ambience is the one of a beach-vacation site, with season variations of its occupation throughout the year.

Having the premise of keeping the existing tower building we approached project concept based in: relation with site, solar exposition and spatial quality. It is clear that these three ideas constitute a whole, but is easier to mention them individually to the present explanation.

Relation with site
Hotel Liesma, when comparing to the neighbour buildings, has a very strong presence in the landscape. The vertical presence, arising from the green mass of trees, contrasts with the more discrete domestic volumes.
The void space that exists between the street and the main hotel occupation (nowadays) seems interesting to us, establishing a sort of three-moments path: street – void – building. This allows us to understand the building, its volumetric disposition, while we are entering the site. Therefore, it became quite clear that we should transport this formal logic to our proposal.

If we think about the given program, we can easily separate the guest room-floors from the public and service areas. They have distinct needs, in terms of access, privacy, exposition, spatial relations and scale.
So, the key to this project is to articulate these volumetric shapes (higher and vertical vs lower and horizontal) and programmes (cell repetition vs large contaminated spaces). If we carefully analyse the existing buildings, we identify some of these concepts (the void between the street and the building, the separation rooms in tower and common areas in lower volumes, for example). The problem is that there are missing two essential concerns: solar exposition and spatial quality.

Solar exposition
Having identified this problems related to interior-exterior connections, and considering the optimization of the solar exposition of the interior spaces, our proposal privileges the south and west sides to public areas (Lobby, Restaurant, Swimming Pool and Conference/Banqueting), leaving North and East sides to service areas.

Spatial Quality
Considering the short-period permanence in a hotel, it is fundamental to have a clear understanding of the main program areas. So, either you are a guest that is staying for some days or weeks, either you use it just for an even (like a congress or a banquet), it is important that you comprehend space, distribution and possible paths in the building. This is why we are used to see the Lobby as a sort of concentrating base point, where everything happens.
This is the main idea of our proposition, where this space works as the agglomeration of all the programmatic spaces. We profited from the existing shapes, gathering the vertical tower and the horizontal extensive public areas, that seek the exterior, with a double height void. This void allows a global fruition of a piano, which highlights the presence of music throughout the whole composition.
Then, we took this idea of interior-exterior transparency to the limit, leaving circulations directly from the Lobby or, when they are not possible with such a direct link, we elevated them to first floor. With this scheme, guests who are staying in the hotel can circulate and profit from hotel facilities using first floor and avoiding crossing the Lobby Area in their daily use. On the other hand, one-day guests can see this movements but are circumscribed to the Lobby and Conference and Banqueting area.

Formal approach
The existing structure of columns and beams was taken into account to define the architectural language of the tower building. We use it to establish a very rhythmic façade, with volumes going in and out, defining balconies integrated in the façade plan and niches of landscape contemplation. Even though we are in a area of the globe where the weather allows a short-term use of the exterior it seemed quite clear that rooms should express this relation towards the exterior (either visual, either physical). Besides that experience that we try to offer, it is also a (re)interpretation of the existing façade, giving it a more complex and interesting plasticity.
The vertical (rooms) and the horizontal (public areas) volumes have distinct conception methodology: in the rooms, the repetition of a very optimized solution of occupation (in therms of layout, furniture disposition, lighting) which allowed us to explore some spatial concepts with some integrated furniture; on the other hand, we chose to gather the Restaurant and the Conference/Banqueting rooms all together (with Kitchen servicing the whole rooms at a higher level), with vertical movable walls, constituting a solution that enables a very flexible use.
The playful use of the swimming pool, lead us to put it near the west mass of trees, finishing the building occupation and defining exterior spaces (a small terrace between the Restaurant and the Swimming Pool, kid's Playground, an exterior prolongation of the pool).


This idea of contemplation in the rhythm of the volumes, as well as the allowance to go to the exterior, to feel weather contingency, to hear the sound of the sea and of the the wind in the trees constitutes the basic experience we feel a guest should have while staying at Liesma.

The musical theme is here present, therefore in a very metaphorical way, avoiding a mimetic decoration or spatial-appropriation to music reported items. We try not to just show musical objects, but to compose as a musician, to flow in nature and in space, contemplating and feeling.