Jurmala is a popular Latvian sea resort on the coast of Baltic sea. It is located on a narrow slip of land between the sea and the river, and each year attracts thousands of tourists from both Latvia and neighbouring countries. Jurmala City Council contracted us to build a sports ground that may be used all year long in any weather. Therefore, we constructed the sports ground with a shed that opens to the river, and is closed towards the nearby railway. In warm season the sports ground floor has a syntetic covering suitable for athletics, basketball, volleyball and handball, but in cold season it is turned into artificial ice ground for hockey and ice-skating. The sports ground is located on a square opposite Majori primary school – an abandoned market place. One of the historic market buildings had to be preserved to perpetuate the fact that this place used to be a market place. Therefore, we adapted one of the buildings to accomodate changing rooms for teams and coaches, sports inventory storage and rent, and public vestibil with administrator’s workplace. The second floor of the building accomodates spectators stands.
Although the structure of the object is concise, it has several conceptual layers that include symbolic, landscape, functional and architectonic aspects.
The object has a strategically significant location because it is visible from all passings to Jurmala: the railway, the city’s main street and the river that has live boat traffic with the capital of Latvia Riga. The object is an significant accent in the city’s overall landscape, and consequently its shape and siluet is especially important. For that reason, we looked for symbols typical for Jurmala and found amber – chrystalised resin of pine. Pine-trees up to 30 m tall are typical for Jurmala and for most of Latvian sea coast, and amber may often be found washed ashore the sea coast.
The total building site of the sports ground is 3252 sq.m. It is a rather prominent volume compared to the surrounding 1-2 storey buildings. Therefore, it was important to integrate the object into the existing landscape by reducing its height. The variable hight of the shed is a peculiar compromise between the heights necessary for sports games (e.g. voleyball – 12 m) and the surrounding low-storey buildings. The volleyball ground is located in the centre of the shed opposite spectators stands, while the shed’s height in direction of sides gradually decreases. The sloping surfaces on the sides of the shed are associated to the two-sided slopes of nearby low-storey buildings. The height of construction shape and the rythm of framework constructions ensures that the object has a dynamic image.
As the object is large, it was important to create it light. It is characteristic to broad-span roof structures to have a mess of constructions and communications at the ceiling. We thought that it would look dramatic in a building with varying height and decided to leave the constructive frames outside and to lag the shed from inside. It resulted in a clear and dynamic interior, while the external open-work frames significantly reduced bulkiness of the building. The polycarbonat used in the building has a 60% transparency. At night it becomes an original screen of light accenting its shape in the city’s landscape.