For an article featured in Blueprint Herbert Wright examines Riga’s new National Library of Latvia, completed by 89-year-old Gunārs Birkerts this month. Located in one of Latvia’s most historic urban settings, the library – locally known as the “Castle of Light” – challenges the city’s recent history of Soviet public architecture with a contemporary, if not as equally monumental, cultural edifice. Initially conceived in 1988 now, over twenty five years later, the structure stands as a €163million testament to Latvia’s rich academic and public cultural heritage. Earlier this year, “14,000 Latvians formed a 2km human chain to pass books from the old to new libraries.” Wright’s exploration of this seminal building on Birkert’s œuvre is complemented by Janis Dripe’s excellent photographic studies of what is certain to be one of the most important Eastern European buildings of this decade.
From the Curators. The exposition with the project title Unwritten highlights issues regarding the perception, research, and conservation of Latvian post-War architecture. Unwritten chronicles, in fact, inexistent research on this.
Venice Biennale 2014: NRJA to Establish First-Ever Database of Latvian Post-War Modernist Architecture
The architects of NRJA have been chosen to curate Latvia’s participation at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Based on the assertion that “there is (no) modernism in Latvia,” the pavilion’s exhibition Unwritten will confront the lack of research and evaluation of Latvian post-war modernist architecture.
Designed by NRJA + IG Kurbads, their ‘Show Under Skin’ proposal for the reconstruction of the new Riga Theatre corresponds to the dynamism of the creative process within the theater – minimalist, smooth finish, combined with a twisted in a motion stopped volume.The skin is a multi-functional covering structure which is connected with the historical volume, covering it and combining various features and space dimensions in a single organic volume, also matching different adjacent building heights. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Located in the small Latvian town of Bauska, the composition of this winning proposal for the library was dictated by low-rise surrounding buildings and the wish to save valuable heritage on the site – old trees and historical building. In order to harmonically integrate into the environment, A2SM Architects decided to divide the building into a few small volumes instead of a single large building. More images and architects‘ description after the break.
The main goal of Sampling Architects for designing the interactive forest information center was to create a generic contemporary addition for the nationally famous National Park of Tervete. They believed the project should allow the discovery of the delight of ‘life of the forest’ through an educational center, but more importantly, creating a space for exchange of know-how of forest science between professionals, students and the general public. More images and architects’ description after the break.
The aim of the proposal for the University of Latvia Academic Center of Natural Sciences by Sestais Stils Architects is to create a comfortable, functional and sustainable environment for studies and work. They wanted a space for students and other interested persons to research and acquire contemporary knowledge and technologies. They also wanted to create a unit of urban structure where all functions necessary for optimal study and research process are provided at one place but at the same time the structure interacts with ‘outside world’ as well. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Haptic Architects, in collaboration with Narud Stokke Wiig Architects & Planners, and Griff Arkitektur recently won the open international competition for the new airbaltic terminal at Riga International Airport in Latvia. Selected from 125 entries from 70 different countries, their design features a roof for the airbaltic terminal that is influenced by the gently undulating forms of the latvian landscape, with peaks and troughs responding to the structure’s internal configuration and passenger flows. More images and project description after the break.
NRJA shared with us their proposal for the reconstruction of a former police station to an apartment building in Riga, Latvia. Their design concept respects the architectural heritage, partly renovating the existing volume and adding a new modern architecture. Reinhold Schmaeling buildings, especially schools, hospitals and public buildings created in early 20th century are very unique architectural works and important part of the rich and diverse heritage of Riga. More images and architects’ description after the break.