The design contest for remodelling the ancient bishop’s castle in the town of Haapsalu (in western Estonia) was won by KAOS Architects with their entry entitled ‘Secret Garden’, created by Margit Argus, Margit Aule, Mart Kadarik and Siim Karro.

The jury’s decision was unanimous. ‘The winning design caught the eye with a bold and inventive solution, taking the visitors to dizzy heights in the north-west corner of the main castle and allowing them to enter areas that were formerly restricted. The solution seems difficult to implement at first glance but may turn out an exciting journey, opening unseen views of the castle yard as well as the town and the sea from the observation balconies, which will be placed in existing window apertures,’ noted the jury.

According to one of the authors, Margit Aule, the distinctive architectural substance of the main castle is best experienced by moving around in this space both horizontally and vertically. ‘A modern museum has to offer not just images and texts but an impression for all the senses.’

Margit Argus elaborates, ‘The new entrance pavilion, modestly nested within the volume of the castle, almost appears to be peeking out curiously from behind the wall. A spatial solution of such kind will add the missing link, functionally integrating the space: it will connect the levels, ensuring access to the basement, level one and the roof. It will be the beginning and the end of the journey.’

The design contest was aimed at concluding a remodelling design contract for Haapsalu Episcopal Castle with the winner of the contest on the basis of the winning design.

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