2004 | 4 | 163-169
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RIGA CENTRE - PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS (Rigas centrs - problemas un risinajumi)

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Building activity is a synonym of economical development, so the society's discontent with new edifices in Riga centre seems paradoxical because of parallel calls for rapid economic growth. Obviously building activity happens in places where it should not but avoids places where it would be necessary. The former ones are mostly public spaces like squares, the latter ones - gaps left by war damages in the building districts. The problem is a well-known contradictory situation in the interpretation of a certain process. During the last years none of the large projects in Riga centre has been realised without smaller or larger scandal. Valdemars' and Stockmann Centres, the Triangul Bastion and 'Saules akmens' skyscraper as well as construction in the Station Square, Town Hall Square and Strelnieku Square are most renowned bones of contention. It should be noted that these are municipal properties afforded for long-term lease with building license. The Valdemars' Centre was constructed in the place of a small wooden building that housed a popular restaurant before the war. Community was informed about the new building in the Station Square only after it was leased out to investors. The Stockmann Centre by the railway embankment was created as an alternative to the failed construction of a multi-level parking lot. It was started in a contestable way when the Riga City Council decided to change the status of natural foundation on both sides of the canal that was approved by the general plan of the City in 1995, permitting construction. The Triangul Bastion was also created with the pretext of building parking lots. There is a simple answer to the question about contradictory choices to be made when part of community is for the new building and part against it. These choices are created by political and economical forces, competing for influence in the City's development and subsequent financial profits. Architects become hostages in this process and they can perform their duty and become 'free' only if they had managed to achieve the impossible - to transform public space in a way acceptable for community.
  • Janis Lejnieks, Editor-in-Chief, Magazine 'Latvijas Architektura', Mukusalas iela 41b, Riga LV-1004, Latvi
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