Stockholm-based architecture studio Norell/Rodhe shared their Two-Face Furniture proposal that recently won second place in the War Port Microtecture competition for Karosta in the city of Liepaja, Latvia.

Karosta — which translates to “war port” or “navy harbor” — was an early-20th century Russian secret military headquarters that was turned into a Soviet naval base, and then consequently faced a drastic drop in population when the Soviet army left after Latvia regained independence in 1991. Today, Karosta’s military architectural allure continues to draw in tourism.To open discussion on further enhancing the heart of Karosta, the War Port Microtecture competition had entrants propose ideas to revive small-scale architectural elements including playgrounds, bus stops, and benches.

“The Karosta neighborhood seems to be defined by a series of contradictions. Its abandoned and decaying buildings are paradoxically fuelling a vibrant art community and increasing tourism. Characterful Czar era palace-like buildings sit next to the repetitive architecture of Soviet era blockhouses. Together, these contradictions make up the strange but wonderful identity of the former USSR naval base.

Drawing on these contradictions, we rethink Karosta’s new urban furniture – bus stops, public seating,  playgrounds and info posts - as a series of spatial conundrums. Depending on how each piece of furniture is approached it may appear solid and massive or, alternatively, thin and hollow. Circling around, it suddenly shifts from abstract to sensual.”

Project Design: Norell/Rodhe
Team: Daniel Norell, Einar Rodhe, Aron Fidjeland, Axel WolgersAll images courtesy of Norell/Rodhe

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“Awareness born of love is the only force that can bring healing and renewal. Out of our love for another person, we become more willing to let our old identities wither and fall away, and enter a dark night of the soul, so that we may stand naked once more in the presence of the great mystery that lies at the core of our being. This is how love ripens us – by warming us from within, inspiring us to break out of our shell, and lighting our way through the dark passage to new birth.”