Latvia’s vernacular heritage is deeply rooted in the materials and topography of its pristine landscapes. As a hiker treks along the Amber Road, a sequence of breathtaking landscapes unfolds, from dense pine forests, through open fields and onto expansive Baltic beaches. We proposed a family of trekking cabins carefully considered to frame the hiker’s experience of the landscape.
However, travelling the Amber Road today is not just a means to escape a fast-paced metropolitan lifestyle. It can also be a journey of cultural immersion, an exploration of some 5000 years of trade history, a chance to meet fellow hikers, express one’s own identity in a unique setting, and learn the language and thinking of a new generation.
Latvia’s extensive forests are an extraordinary national asset. Extending over most of the country, the vast majority of these are accessible to the public. A profound relationship with the forest is core to the national psyche, and a walk in the woods must surely feature on the itinerary of any visitor. Unusually, Latvia’s forests extend in many places unbroken to the shoreline, a legacy of the Baltic coast’s past as a depopulated defensive frontier. Elsewhere, and particularly around farming communities, the forest opens into wide fields and open grassland.
As a plentiful resource, timber naturally features prominently in Latvian vernacular building methods across building typologies, from the domestic to the military. Its abundance is reflected in the use of massive elements, shaped from single tree trunks, in monolithic timber construction. The proposed cabins trace a path connecting ancient woodland with a re-interpretation of local architectural heritage. Our concept revolves around a proposal for a family of trekking cabins to be sited either within the treeline, adjacent to the coast; in the forest or on open grassland.