Promoting Baltic architecture as an art

  • 2000-02-17
  • By Vineta Lagzdina
RIGA – St. Peters Church currently displays the most outstanding works from Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian architects created over the last five to ten years.

The exhibition is an initiative of the Baltic Architects Unions Association and shows that economic development in all three Baltic states has been influential on contemporary design and in reconstruction of buildings. There is diversity and difference. Photographs, drawings and drafts present a range of projects from private homes, villas, state buildings and other complexes. The Lithuanians have the greater representation and tend to be more open in style and use brighter colors. In general, the Estonian look is more Scandinavian, the Latvian being more reserved and earth bound.

The international public organization BAUA was established in 1993 when the Union of International Architects assembly in Chicago ratified its admission. The BAUA provides architects with opportunities to participate in international competitions, shows, assemblies and education programs. This enhances the quality of Baltic architecture and promotes architecture as an art and the architects as creators.

The BAUA exhibition is open daily at St. Peters until March 1.

Latvia's Association of Architects has recently become more active and outspoken. They not only invited the BAUA exhibit to Riga, following Lithuania's initiative in 1999 in Vilnius, but used the opportunity to simultaneously display with an extensive mockup the winner of Latvian Architecture 99 - a unique project for the society of Ventspils, "Games of the Linear Center." This could be characterized as a new avant garde principle in designing and creating the urban environment, involving 13 architects' teams.

LAA also presented on Feb. 10 a "Manifesto of Architecture," as a way of addressing the gap between environment, society, building and law reforms.

"During the 90s conceptual plans regarding territorial reform were not regulated," said Janis Lejnieks, LAA member who has a doctorate in architecture.

Ervins Timofejevs, LAA vice chairman, said that architects have not been paying attention to law reforms and the manifesto outlines necessary changes, such as working in parallel with the Environment Development Ministry. The need for greater certification of architects was put forward by certification chairman Edgar Berzins.

"There are 1500 qualified architects in Latvia, but of those, only 700 are certificated," he said.