With so many national parks across Eastern Europe, it can be hard for one to stand out. The Gauja National Park is not only one of the oldest and largest parks in the region, it is also home to a staggering array of wildlife, landscapes, and cultural landmarks.
Established in 1973, the Gauja National Park stretches over more than 90,000 hectares and includes a
section of the Gauja Valley along the Gauja River, between between Valmiera and Murjani. The park features magnificent sandstone outcrops, rocks, cliffs and vast caverns such as Gutmanala, the most spacious grotto in the Baltic states; Kalejala, which is the longest; as well as the popular Velnala in Sigulda.
Formed between 350-370 million years ago, the reddish, yellow, and gray sandstone cliffs are some of the biggest tourist attractions in the park, with numerous cliffs edging over the Gauja River.
The Gauja National Park is also home to over 500 cultural and historical monuments. Dotted along the Gauja River, there are 19 ancient castle mounds, 6 medieval castles, and 3 towns. Many of the castles date back hundreds of years, and now feature museums that portray the history of the region all the way back to the 9th century.
Gauja National Park is also a home to adrenaline junkies, as visitors can experience a ride down the Sigulda Luge and Bobsleigh Track – the training venue of several Latvian Olympic medalists – or even bungee jump from a cable car suspended 43 meters above the Gauja River. There is also ample opportunity for outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking, and canoeing during the summer months, and excellent skiing during winter months.
The Gauja National Park Footbridge competition is sourcing designs for a footbridge to serve as a symbolic entrance to the park in honor of its 45th anniversary. As the footbridge would be suspended over a road, it must be high enough for trucks and buses to pass underneath it. It must also be capable of bearing the weight of high volumes of pedestrian foot traffic, and should feature welcome and goodbye signage as well as park information stands.
Participants are tasked with thinking about the buildability of their designs, and ensuring that they correspond with the context of the national park and being welcoming to visitors, while at the same time displaying innovation and the potential to become an internationally recognized landmark.
THE COMPETITION SITE
The competition site is the entry point to the Gauja National Park. It is located on the border with the nearby Sigulda town. There are no set boundaries to the site, only the recommended location with the footbridge extending across the P8 highway towards the park.
The Gauja National Park Footbridge is open until April 26, 2019, with final winners of the US$ 6,000 prize to be announced on July 11, 2019. Visit gaujafootbridge.beebreeders.com for more information.