Lighting the way

Tuesday 29 Nov 2011

Competition entry for Hotel Liesma in Latvia takes inspiration from Northern Lights

A ‘Daina’ is the name given to traditional forms of music and poetry from Latvia. Their fluctuating yet ordered structure combined with traditional music notation inspired the rhythmic ‘push’ and ‘pull’ nature of this conceptual hotel room plan by m-system architecture. The team explains their concept as ‘Latvian music translated into architectural space’.

On the facade this effect is further enhanced by the addition of a bay window that becomes an ‘inspiration’ space, a floating extension of the hotel room, allowing the artist to focus on practice or writing of new material, whilst being set within a back drop of raw nature. These spaces also become a buffer to cold weather, protecting the bedrooms behind. m-system’s 3-dimensional facade becomes akin to an acoustically insulated surface. Externally the building is clad with ‘ship lap timber’ with the timber stained black to aid in heat absorption.

The coloured glass inserted into these bays draws inspiration from the ‘northern lights’, a phenomenon of nature that can be observed across the Latvian skies. It is envisaged that from a distance the hotel itself will take on the appearance of such a natural marvel.

m-system architecture saw an opportunity to create a dramatic performance space through the creation of a generous void that punctures every level down to ground. The ‘music tower’ houses the banquet/conference centre and concert hall at ground level. The southern edge of the tower houses a stacked variety of musically orientated facilities such as practice rooms, a recording studio and a music library, as well as a VIP function room. A series of suspended seating pods further animate the void perimeter.

The facade openings of the existing structure have been reduced to minimise heat loss. These new circular openings, filled with coloured glass, form patterns inspired by ‘music braille’, casting a controlled, musical light across the interior volume. Within the interior the architects have aimed to capture a sense of ‘drama’ often experienced during musical performances, by creating vertical voids, visual connections and juxtaposing spaces of varying scale where possible.

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