Gabriel Mueller — Industrial Designer

A floating timber pavilion in Soomaa, Estonia

Starting point

A very diverse group of architecture and design students spending 10 days together in a National Park in Estonia


A floating wooden structure which extends the park's existing infrastructure, aimed at locals and visitors alike


This project has been featured on various design blogs

A piece of micro architecture which is inspired by its surroundings

Estonia's beautiful Soomaa national park consists of large raised bogs, flood plain grasslands, forests and meandering rivers. Each year in spring, the rivers flood and the land is covered with water, which leaves visitors and locals to navigate the area by boat.

The goal of the workshop was to create a wooden installation which could join the existing forest infrastructure while reflecting its delicate environment.


    Developing and validating concepts in a very hands-on manner

    Having no electricity on-site, we developed concepts for wooden floating installations with drawings and small wooden mock-ups only.

    After having decided upon a concept, we built three different platform structures which we evaluated for their ability to float and carry weight without drowning.

    Discussing an early mock-up

    Different concepts were combined

    Will it carry all of us?


    Different units create a floating public space

    We decided to build three modules based on the same platform - a shelter, a fireplace and a sauna. The sauna and the shelter should comprise a series of V-shaped timber profiles.

    Unfortunately, the sauna sank while we put it into the river, so that only two of the three modules could be opened for public use. After five days of building (with basic tools and machinery), we transferred the platforms to their target destination..

    "As an attempt to deal with contemporary challenges, both planetary and local, it is necessary and clever to jump outside the usual game of the urban professional life, and seek a counter­-phenomena out on the ‘edge’, where people are ripped off from their roles and positions, and need to act on a common ground. People’s real needs emerge, and they need to be fulfilled, and meanwhile ‘design’ becomes just part of ‘making’."

    — Sami Rintala, one of the tutors, about the learning and building process in wilderness, via designboom


    Veetee ("Waterway") is a meeting space on the water

    The timber pavilion invites locals and visitors to explore and enjoy the land with a fresh perspective.

    It is accessible all year round, even during the so-called 5th season, when the floodings cover the majority of Soomaa national park.

    Image by Tõnu Tunnel



Last three images by Tõnu Tunnel


Sami Rintala, Pavle Stamenovic, b210, Hannes Praks (Estonian Academy of Arts)


Alden Jõgisuu, Andrea Tamm, Andres Mutis, Berglind Erna Tryggvadóttir, Brigita Kasperaitè, Dan Theman Docherty, Finlay Barge, Gabriel Müller, Gerda Kaasik, Kadri Erdel, Kristiina Veinberg, Laura Müürsepp, Siim Karro, Stefano Prevosti, Triin Mänd, Tuva Ina Sofia Björk