Mud Spa

Location: Pärnu, Estonia

Year: 2008

Status: Competition

Size: 8,193m²

Program: Recreation, Hotel

Project team: Alver Architects (Andres Alver, Tarmo Laht, Indrek Rünkla, Ulla Saar, Sven Koppel)


Pärnu mud spa, designed in the 1920’s by Olev Siinmaa, has been left unfinished both spatially and historically, waiting to be completed and filled with life. The same applies to the Pärnu sea shore park bordering the spa block, which currently houses a vaguely defined public promenade. Both have their unique potential and subtlety. The proposal for the mud spa extension is born from looking at both of these structures together, and aiming to mutually enrich them with each other’s presence. Thus, the main challenge of the competition is, on one hand, to finish/close the spa complex, and on the other – frame the seashore promenade with an attractive space serving as its border.

The challenge gets resolved by an addition of a new volume in the back of the block, facing the promenade. Hotel rooms on the third floor of the new volume provide a spatial resolution to the spa block, while a  restaurant and publicly accessible rooms on the ground floor augment the experience of the promenade.

The  linear arrangement of public spaces along the promenade reinforce its linearity. A concert space in the east is followed by the terrace of the restaurant, and finished by the terraces adjacent to the event spaces in the west, with the hotel and spa entrance folded into the sequence. The hotel block is placed on top of the public spaces, protecting them from the elements, while conforming to the horizontal typology of the buildings along the Pärnu sea shore.

To make sure we get the effect of “finishing” the old mud spa complex, we need to place the new volume as close as possible to it. On the sides, the new and the old get so close together that they form clear courtyards, which get filled with green multilevel sun-bathing terraces. The new block touches the old one with a glazed winter garden in the middle, and glazed galleries on the sides.