Situated near the Latvian-Russian border, the town of Rēzekne is known for castle ruins and churches; the "Heart of Latgalia" isn't exactly renowned as an international creative capital. When SAALS Architecture, a studio in the capital, entered a contest to design an innovative new educational center for the town to inspire younger students and encourage older ones to stay after graduation, the Riga studio took an approach that blended the old and new. Situated atop old castle mounds, the new Zeimuls Centre of Creative Services of Eastern Latvia fuses planar geometry and green design, drawing inspiration from the local legend of a princess stuck in the ground near the castle. Sunk into the earth and capped with angled green roofs and crooked towers, the new facility activates the landscape with a bent exterior. It's as if the ground, buckling beneath ones feet, has been frozen in time.
While the striking exterior of SAALS's layout draws students in, the idiosyncratic concrete interiors are just as intriguing. There's a sculptural feel to the bent walls and windows, which provide plenty of natural light. To get kids to think outside of the box, it makes sense to reconsider the rectangular classroom.