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.
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.
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.
The aim of ARHIS for the kindergarten competition proposal in Riga, Latvia is to create a new type of kindergarten, where children can easily learn to incorporate with each other, the urban environment, and with society. The project solution is a public building with a three-dimensional park integrated in the urban structure and to become a part of the city public space and greenery system, which is a part of the Riga development plan. More images and architects’ description after the break.
NRJA shared their competition entry for an extension of the Latvian National Museum of Art with us. The project proposes a reconstruction plan incorporates new features that will not disturb the historical structure of the museum, but will considerably improve its structural and sustainability performance. The museum sits at a dominant location in the center of Riga and NRJA’s extension seeks to link the existing historical building with a new park gallery.
More about the extension after the break.