Riga’s “gentleman’s kit” lacks two cultural buildings / Article

Riga’s “gentleman’s kit” lacks two cultural buildings / Article
Riga’s “gentleman’s kit” lacks two cultural buildings / Article

The Support Association of the Latvian National Library (LNB Support Association) has published the book “Cultural space – 21st century cultural buildings in Latvia” by architect Jānis Dripes. It describes the 83 most architecturally successful structures – cultural places created in the first two decades of this century.

“Obviously, that time has brought other opportunities. We have been in the European Union since 2004, and as our previous president said, times like this, when money from European funds falls from the sky, I would say, should be used. It is in the cultural genre it’s pretty expertly done,” said Dripe Sr.

Two buildings are still very much missing in the cultural space of Latvia – the acoustic concert hall and the museum of contemporary art in Riga, the architect admitted. This aspect is also mentioned in the book. “We can, of course, regret that it is not on such a positive note, there is still no acoustic concert hall in Riga, and there is no museum of contemporary art. From such a “gentleman’s suite” and for Riga to truly be called the Baltic metropolis, this “gentleman’s suite” is sorely lacking in two buildings,” admits the author.

“The task of this book was, in a sense, to teach us to be in a dialogue with politicians, that succession is of special importance in Latvia. Especially where we three people are founding four parties. What is embedded – continue the work, and that will be the result.

We also waited exactly 25 years for the National Library from the first sketch by Gunnar Birkert. Excellent patience on the part of at least two people – Gunārs Birkert and Andras Vilks. I think they were the only ones who believed for a quarter of a century that the library would exist, and they came. Well, we have a 37-year history with the concert hall. You need patience and continuity in things, then the result will come,” admitted Dripe senior.

Meanwhile, the National Library, Rundāle Palace and Mežaparka’s big stage are the three big pillars that we can be proud of in the last two decades. It is in these categories that Dripe senior divides cultural buildings of Latvia – libraries come first, then palaces, then theaters.

“Libraries are by mass the largest set of cultural buildings in Latvia with such a geography. I have worked on smaller palaces of light and beautiful Latvian libraries, and it is an absolute value.

We could say that Latvia is also a land of libraries,” said Dripe senior.

“And in the center of them is the National Library like a shining mountain. It gives, I think, a kind of superior value to all those people who work in smaller libraries and work in this field in general, that there is somewhere that one center, that axis around which it all revolves purely ideological,” Dripe Jr. added.

When it comes to new cultural buildings, architect Jānis Dripe admits that the past year was special, a kind of crowning: for the 150th Song Festival, a new stage was built, a magnificent structure that has already been noticed around the world. Therefore, this has been the right time to summarize the performance. “If that process has somehow progressed in a meaningful way, why not show it, why not brag about it, both nationally and internationally,” Dripe senior said.

Especially in these times, architecture is what reminds us of values, because a cultural space is not just a building. These are people and cultural expressions that fill this building, and in Latvia we don’t have to worry about filling.

“We somehow take it for granted, but as soon as that volume and that building is built, it is full of activity – up to the top, up to the roof. If you missed the space rental opportunities or the first wave, then that’s it, they are closed, they are working , there is no more room – the concerts are written forward, forward. So it is with theaters, so it is with concerts. About their use and fulfillment, I think, we sometimes forget and so naturally flood these buildings with themselves that it already seems like such a standard. But it shows that it is all alive, functioning and filled with human warmth and activity,” said Dripe Jr.

The article is in Latvian

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