Kite boarding and windsurfing centre, Svencelė
Windproof container city
SVENCELĖ (LT) - Since the end of the Soviet era, the model of implementing large-scale urban ideas tout de suite in Lithuania has become almost impracticable, and with the looming economic crisis of recent years, even more so. So what if you have an ambitious project of urban development, and giving up on or freezing your ideas for an unlimited time is not an option? The Svencelė kiting sports centre by Andre Baldi architecture urbanism studio and Aketuri Architektai suggests an alternative, simple, low-cost, quick and eye-catching idea that offers an effective solution to enhance this particular site, and could work as a catalyst for the further development of the area in the future.
Being a remote outpost, the village of Svencelė lacks services and a decent transport infrastructure, and seems to be neglected by everyone, except for one category of enthusiasts. Stretching along the picturesque shore of the Curonian Lagoon, a place endowed with winds that never cease, Svencelė is one of the most famous spots for kite surfing in the country. Having for decades experienced the beauty as well as the discomfort of the wild, empty beach, some five years ago visitors and locals were presented with an urban concept for the total resurrection of the area. The masterplan envisioned a 30-hectare complex of residential quarters, a harbour and a service and sports centre. While the big plans have been suspended until more prosperous times, the first stage, a surf camp occupying one hectare, was implemented as a pilot fragment to test the urban concept and to enhance public awareness of the place.
Thirty-seven one- or two-storey refurbished shipping containers are distributed regularly along the wooden pathways heading towards the water. The front line of the quarter, offering views of the lagoon, is dedicated to public functions, such as a restaurant with an open-air terrace, surf schools and equipment shops, while the residential units and a block of conveniences are located further inland.
Simple, sugar-free exteriors are in tune with spartan interiors. Tiny rooms, equipped with basic furniture and large, glazed doors, correspond to the concept of prioritizing communication over privacy. It seems, however, that this moderate level of comfort totally satisfies the abundant youthful and active visitors, who are drawn by kiting facilities combined with a cultural programme, which includes concerts and well-being festivals.
Built in three months with an unbelievably modest investment of 45,000 euros, the Svencelė camp is a fresh urban intervention, and proves that even small steps in the process of urban development, if designed carefully and with ingenuity, can result in a significant push forward.
March | 2013 | Lithuania | Rūta Leitanaitė