A new generation of designer cabins for hikers on Latvia's rugged Amber Road have been unveiled as part of an international competition, proving that the pursuit of practicality doesn’t have to come at the cost of aesthetics.

The cabins were designed to be used as refuges for hikers on Latvia’s Amber Road: a coastal route reaching for 530 kilometeres across the county. Architects were urged to keep sustainability at the heart of their designs, which need to be able to cope with the wild and varied landscapes of Latvia’s rugged Baltic coast — from white, sandy beaches to dense pine forests.

Scott Grbavac, Andreea Cutieru and Santiago Carlos Peña Fiorda were awarded first place with their design, Link. From the outside, the cabin appears as a traditional wooden hut, with four private rooms for hikers. The cabin’s interior however, transforms into a protected outdoor space, perfect for gatherings around the campfire.

Judges said that the team's iconic subversion of public and private, indoor and outdoor, was a key factor behind the win.

  • Latvian Cabin 1

    LINK by Scott Grbavac, Andreea Cutieru and Santiago Peña.

  • Latvian Cabin 1

    The cabin's hollowed out centre.

  • Latvian Cabin 1

    A private space for hikers.

  • Latvian Cabin 1

    LINK by Scott Grbavac, Andreea Cutieru and Santiago Peña.

Second prize was awarded to a group of students at the University of Warsaw for their design, Human Atrium. Lukasz Palczynski, Jan Szeliga and Antoni Prokop. Their design, Human atrium, was praised by judges for promoting a collective ethos in a limited footprint: allowing hikers to withdraw to their own private spaces without resorting to individual rooms.   

  • Latvian Cabin 2

    Human Atrium by Lukasz Palczynski, Jan Szeliga and Antoni Prokop.

  • Latvian Cabin 2

    The interior of Human Atrium by Lukasz Palczynski, Jan Szeliga and Antoni Prokop.

Third prize was given to Rob Brown, Carly Martin and Jincheng Jiang: an Austrailian team based in New South Wales. Their two-storey design hoped to act as a vertical beacon for hikers along the trail, elevated above the forest floor. The lower level of the facade is designed to completely open up, bringing the outdoors in.

  • Latvian Cabin 3

    Amber Road Trekking Cabin by Rob Brown, Carly Martin and Jincheng Jiang.

  • Latvian Cabin 3

    Amber Road Trekking Cabin by Rob Brown, Carly Martin and Jincheng Jiang.

For more information on the competition and the final designs, click here.

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