Poets Retreat


“Lasīt” definition: read, gather, pick, cull, pull, spell

Latvian hero poet, Imants Ziedonis, to a young poet, “Don’t read books, read stones.”

The Gathering of Stones Poet Huts are an environment for poet inhabitants to both read/share their craft and gather/rejuvenate their creative practice. The buildings are a metaphoric gathering of stones, an assemblage of seven distinct huts sheltering living and socializing spaces.

The site: an agricultural pasture, a landscape of wide horizons, bounded by sea, river and forest at the western edge of the country. To harness this setting the building arrangement as well as the building’s program is a strategy of “to see” and “to be seen.” Look within and without.

SEEN: Upon approach from the road the linear assembly of the buildings across the pasture is seen rising from low to high from one end to the other. A varied topography to distinguish the structures from lower farm buildings and tree copses. TO SEE: Ascend to the viewing tower and view the distant land, descend through the earthen seating area to receive framed views of the celestial sky.

The adjacent hut solution provides proximity and isolation/privacy simultaneously for the resident poets and visiting guests. “Poet Hut” could connote small, isolated structures; creating poetry can be conducive to this condition. Isolation could hinder social gathering, make building maintenance more toilsome. The linear assembled buildings are close together at the western Social hut, moving east the buildings get further and further apart. Along this path each building is rotated uniquely for private views from the interior, further striking the balance of isolation/privacy with proximity/ease of use.

Building form and construction technique are a hybrid of tradition and innovation.

Traditional local residential morphology of 1/3 wall to 2/3 45 degree roof relation is modified in multiple directions to create distinct harmonic profiles between each structure, while continuing to provide snow shedding function. Like hewn stones. Skylights at the top of each roof infuse light and sky into the spaces throughout the day. Traditional eave overhangs become the slatted porches outside each entryway.

Homes and farm buildings were assembled from whole logs in the past. Here the building will be assembled in days time with spruce Cross laminated timber solid panels sourced from latvian spruce forests. Panels are prefabricated and the exterior prefinished in the factory. The CLT panel benefits include less construction waste, renewability, carbon sink/reduction. Building operation is enhanced by the panels which are thermally highly performative and airtight. Heating and cooling function with small mechanical requirements.

Similar to cycles of Latvian Dainas, the poet huts are versatile enough to be armature to many activities throughout the year. On long warm summer nights residents and tourists alike will gather on the grass to hear poet resident recite their prose under the large porch of the gathering hut. Picnics and receptions can be held here. As the sky grows dark and guest leave, a poet will wander to the end of the path and enter the sky space, lie back on the bench to observe celestial bodies far away.

Short winter days and long winter nights may see only one or two huts on either end of the path occupied by the poets seeking long quiet work sessions in their hut with the wood stove burning away; gathering once or twice a day for a meal in the shared dining space. Alternatively a group of poets come and choose the huts in most proximity to share in the comfort and warmth of their fellow collaborators.

Building type:Hospitality
Competition 2019
8,000 square feet total
Primary components:C
CLT(Cross Laminated Timber) harvested and fabricated in Latvia, Concrete foundations, geothermal heating, limestone gravel paths.

Poetry passages:

I Followed Her Footsteps

“… At the edge of a field

I felt the wholeness of a rock:

large and strong, it stood there humming

as only stones can—

in dew, a field of rye, and hope.”


“Great numbers of stones walk in procession to Vecaki and along the Tallin highway to Skulte, Tūja and Kurmrags.

They wade into the sea and with their blue stone eyes look at the sun...”


“I go with them and enter the garden of stone-cutter. ...And thus says the stone-cutter of all thresholds: "There must be raised, if not the thresholds themselves, then their demands. A threshold today is no longer just a functional attribute of a building. A threshold is the x-ray of the home, its magic eye. I say this especially to you—thresholds of buildings of ideology, thresholds of the academies and of prisons. Rise, return to your places and be higher [nobler]! ...I walk alongside the thresholds on my way back home”