Blank Studio Design + Architecture

Blue Clay Country Spa

Kurzeme, Latvia

Integrally composed around the four existing oak trees, through the grass-covered hill, andbracketing the edge of the pond, this proposal envisions a loose assembly of linear pavilions stretched north to south along the axis of the site. Long, coiling ribbons of thick, water reed thatch walls enclose interior space and extend into the surrounding landscape, framing views of the trees, inscribing the exterior grass clearings and encouraging movement along the extended passage deck platform nestled within.

Thatching is a regional building method with an extensive history. Employed commonly on roof surfaces this proposal makes walls to maximize visual sympathy with the surroundings and benefit from the durability, thermal resistance, and cost-efficiency of this bespoke craftwork. 

From the horizontal datum of the thatch walls, multiple gabled roof forms clad in satin-finished aluminum emerge. These simple forms announce key gathering spaces within the pavilion buildings and reference the rural farmstead building context of western Latvia.

Earth was moved and piled to make this pond. The hill and the water rest in balanced counterpoint to one another. This act of removal uncovered blue clay. We envision one more act of removal – enough to insert into the hill a bottle shaped vessel.

Like fingers pressed into soft clay mud, the walls of this vessel have the subtle texture of thatch cast into its surface – an inversion within the white concrete. Blue clay toned tile inscribe a waterline and form the bottom of the vessel to gauge your relationship between the ground and the surrounding earthen mound.     

Whereas the building walls and compositions shelter and frame ones’ focus to the site and landscape, this vessel is more akin to a Skyspace by James Turrell. This space is a pure place of material and sky, water, and steam – a place to soak, contemplate; focusing both upward and inward.


Status: Competition Complete – Shortlist Finalist – 2017

Architect: Matthew Trzebiatowski

Project Team: Samuel Martin

Images: Canalettos