Modern Movement architecture under threat in Riga A plan for

Modern Movement architecture under threat in Riga
A plan for radical remodelling of the building of Occupation Museum in Riga building
has been announced. If the plan will be implemented, it will bring an irreversible loss of an
outstanding example of post-war Modern Movement architecture and also set a dangerous
precedent for arbitrary alterations of urban environment.
The building was constructed in 1969–1970 as the museum-monument to the Latvian
Red Riflemen in a place of medieval Old-Riga, where original spatial structure was
completely destroyed during World War II. The authors of the ensemble that consists of the
museum building and sculptural monument placed in the square in front of it – architects
Dzintars Driba (1928–1993) and Gunārs Lūsis-Grīnbergs (1932–2015), and sculptor
Valdis Albergs (1922–1984) – for its architecture got the State award in 1972. The building is
dressed in geometrically shaped copper plates. The social and historical importance of the
present-day function of the ensemble is strengthened by the fact that previously it served not
only for ideological propaganda of the historical mission of Latvian riflemen but also of
Soviet power which during the 20th century has occupied Latvia for three times.
Outstanding architectural, cultural, historical and emotional quality of the building
could be strengthened by high-quality restoration and organic incorporation of the building
into future built-up urban environment. Any extension should be subordinated to this
objective. However, what is being proposed now is all in all new building distorting
harmonious proportions and spatial qualities of existing one. The existing open ground floor
space will be partly built-up, and new rectangular wing ignorant to the building line of the
adjacent street will exclude possibility of bringing into order the whole urban environment. It
is a populist solution that would sacrifice the architectural qualities of World Heritage Site –
historical centre of Riga (listed in 1997) and realise only a short-term political ambition.
A group of members of Latvian National DOCOMOMO Working Party asks all
colleagues worldwide to support its efforts in saving the significant monument of Modern
Movement architecture. If you agree with us, please, fill the windows below:
Don’t agree
Photograph of 2002
Existing situation
Remodelling project
Remodelling project