PAPE NATURE PARK GATEWAY
INTO THE WOODS
Designed by Alessia Falcini and Christelle Maalouf
The Pape Nature Park is something of a natural wonder in itself, spanning some 51,000 hectares in the south west region of Latvia. It has become a birdwatching paradise as it sees over 50,000 migratory birds each year, and even reintroduced other wildlife back into nature. Most notably was the reintroduction of wild horses, who had been driven from the area by human agriculture and settlements.
It was required to balanced the creation of an iconic landmark with the properties necessary for day-to-day life at the park, including a ticket booth, visitor accommodation, a terrace for campers, and a playground for the kids. For this competition, the jury focused its attention on each project’s buildability, and how it would carefully consider environmental impact while at the same time working within a limited budget.
Pape Nature Park is one of Latvia’s various nature reserves. It is home for many unique fauna and flora species and most importantly a birdwatching paradise. Human beings get to enjoy this rich environment through hiking and walking trails allowing them to get in touch with nature.
The new gateway to the Pape Nature Park is inspired by nature itself. It represents a smaller reality introducing the visitors to the experience they are about to enjoy inside the park. The intervention remains a minimalistic structure dispersed in the site. The architecture recalls scenes from the forest, due to the effect of light and shadow that recalls the tall slender trees of the forest and the intercepting beams of sunlight.
Moreover, these wood strips dominating over the entire intervention, play the role of visibility control, natural light control, privacy and shelter.
The main material employed is wood and thus wood frame construction method. The use of this material is based on several factors mainly recalling its use in Latvian construction across history, in addition to its durability and its availability in local controlled forests.
The second material used is the recyclable and reusable polycarbonate panels in transparent and translucent opacities allowing for varied visibility from external or internal point of views, depending on the function the space entails. It also controls the amount of natural light entering the building, substituting the use of artificial lighting during the day. Besides, the panels are mounted via “male-female joint interlock”
allowing easier replacement of elements and less vulnerability to damage.
The facility is to be equipped with roof-top photovoltaic panels for power generation, whereas external lighting is ground-level fixed and independently equipped with smaller panels for independent lighting system in the campsite during closing hours.
Rain-water collection system and filtration for potable water is foreseen. The main building’s roof is inclined with a 7.5% slope allowing rain water drainage through canals that collect in basins installed on the eastern side of the building and close to the services facility in the campsite.
The functional division goes progressively from public to private as one approaches the site towards the nature park passing through the gate. The main facility occupies the private and semi-private zones specifies for staff and researchers whereas the exterior facilities are mainly for visitors and campers.
The waiting area functions as an info point at the same time, displaying all the information needed before entering the reserve, and as a meeting point with the guides. It provides shelter from weather conditions without being a completely closed structure.