Dezeen Magazine

Karosta Brutlist Facelift
Brutlist Facelift

Submit designs to redevelop a former Soviet military town

Dezeen promotion: competition organiser Homemade Dessert is offering architects and designers the chance to present visions for the redevelopment of a former Soviet town in Latvia, with a total of $16,000 (£10,000) prize money to be won.

Karosta apartment blocks
Apartment blocks, Karosta

Homemade Dessert and Liepaja City Council have organised three competitions calling for architectural and urban planning visions for Karosta, a former Soviet military town in Latvia.

Karosta cathedral and graffitti
Cathedral and graffiti, Karosta

The town is located ten kilometres north of the west-coast city of Liepaja and was built as part of the Russian empire, before housing the Soviet military during the second half of the twentieth century. It was abandoned in 1994 and remains in a derelict state.

Karosta ruined building
Ruined building, Karosta

The first competition Ghost Town Challenge invites entrants to plan a new development for the town centre. It costs $120 (£75) to enter, with $10,000 (£6000) in prizes going to winning entries. Registration closes 17 November 2013.

Karosta playground
Playground, Karosta

Named Brutalist Facelift, the second competition requests participants to come up with ideas to renovate the existing Soviet buildings around the town. It costs $80 (£50) to enter, with $4000 (£2500) in prizes going to the winners. Registration closes 28 November, 2013.

Karosta horse arena
Horse arena, Karosta

Thirdly, War Port Microtecture asks designers to invent street furniture, bus stops and playgrounds, creating a unique identity for the town's urban environment. It costs $20 (£12) to enter, with $2000 (£1250) in prizes going winning entries. Registration closes 12 March 2014.

Karosta cathedral
Cathedral, Karosta

Visit the Homemade Dessert website for the full design briefs, entry requirements and registration.

Read on for more details from the organisers:

Total $16,000 offered as prizes for Karosta architecture vision competition series winners!

The international architecture vision competition organisers Homemade Dessert in cooperation with Liepaja City Council and several local artists has developed a series of design competitions, which envisions the refurbishment of the former Soviet military town – Karosta.

Karosta bridge
Bridge, Karosta

Before establishing their own vision the contestants are advised to acquaint themselves with this unique urban environment, which holds in its borders impressive historic monuments, such as, the orthodox St Nicholas Cathedral built in the Russian empire times, the former Horse race manage, and the Karostas prison. An additional and special aesthetic value can be found in the brutal Soviet multi-building architecture.

Karosta is the former military city located ten kilometres north from the centre of the West coast city of Liepaja. Karosta was built for the needs of Russian empire and later on served the military of Soviet Union. For a long time it was a closed off zone; however later on in 1994 the Soviet army left the location which resulted in a great loss of population that has never recovered. Most of the buildings in Karosta were abandoned but only some of them were demolished; the rest were left to the ruthless influence of the time and environment.

Karosta Ghost Town Challenge site
Ghost Town Challenge site, Karosta

Ghost Town Challenge

The first part of the competition series is the "Ghost Town Challenge", which is organised by the Homemade Dessert with the aim to develop Karosta city environment. It is done by the planning of a building complex that would be the central object of the place in future; by doing so it would revitalise this part of the city, bring in more citizens, and other interested parties. The task of the participants is to develop and present their vision about a multi-functional cultural centre, which would include an exhibition hall, a library, conference centre, and possibly recreational zones: retail business area, and restaurants. This competition is available for any participants that are interested; a professional qualification is not required.

The registration for the competition will be held until 17 November, 2013. The prize fund for the competition is $10,000.

Karosta cathedral and Soviet buildings
Cathedral and Soviet building, Karosta

Brutalist Facelift

The next competition is "Brutalist Facelift". This competition still aims at the development of Karosta, however, this time in comparison to the former competition it strives not on building a completely new object in Karosta, but rejuvenating already existing buildings: the Soviet Union time multi-story buildings. The participants are welcomed to develop proposals to rejuvenate these buildings because they are a big part of this military city; however their bad condition requires an immediate action. The participants can decide on the further function of the building: whether they are converted back to the former housings or reconstructed as primarily aesthetic objects. The main aim is to find a wise way to utilise these buildings in the future by using affordable building materials, colours, or other effective conceptual solutions. For the presentation the participants are allowed to use any available tools of presentation: 3D graphics, hand painted drawings, paintings, collages or other methods. There is a requirement of uploading one A3 format presentation board with perspective, and two elevations.

The registration for the competition will be held until 28 November, 2013. The prize fund for the competition is $4000.

Karosta wave breaker
Wave breaker, Karosta

War Port Microtecture

The third and the final part of the series is the "War Port Microtecture". The participants of this competition are given a challenge to focus on the smaller forms of architecture of this urban environment play grounds, bus stops, benches and information boards. It is done with the aim to develop a concept of the unified identity of Karosta city environment; however, the main focus of the development of the concept should be the functionality of the objects. They have to be joined to form a unified design scheme due to the fact that the objects are planned to be distributed in accordance to the participants' proposed view of their functionality.

The registration for the first part of this specific competition will be until 8 January, 2014, and the second part will be held until 12 March, 2013. The prize fund for the competition is $2000.

Even though Karosta has a somewhat complicated history based on the fact that for a long time it was closed off as a military zone apart from the rest of the city, it is still a huge part of Liepaja. A part from that, it is not only important to the citizens of Karosta, but because of its unusual history and architecture it is also important to the common development of the city. Since regaining the independence of Latvia Karosta has been one of the most important tourists attraction places not only in Liepaja but also in whole Latvia; nevertheless, Karosta is becoming very troubling place of residence for the actual citizens of it.

The charm of Liepaja can be found in its particular atmosphere. The city is a little bit tough but still very beautiful and serene. In nearly 700 years it has grown from a small fishermen village to the third biggest city in Latvia with population over 80,000. The city also has distinguished sports and cultural traditions: the oldest theatre in Latvia, symphonic orchestra, many talented artists, architects, and sportsmen/sportswomen reside in Liepaja. The cultural life of the city attracts many art lovers. The wide coastline and environment attracts the travellers; but as a successful industrial and port city it also attracts entrepreneurs. And Karosta, in its glory, attracts many people with a taste in unique and unusual environment.