Riga Arts Centre

The RIGA ARTS CENTRE complements and expands the present structure with new but related structures in a variety of configurations designed not merely to improve and expand the present museum’s exhibition space, but to allow it to function as a new and different kind of museum, one relevant to the purposes set by the designation of Riga as the European Capital of Culture for 2014.

Riga, Latvia
Sector: Cultural
Client: The Latvian National Museum of Art
Project Status: Competition

We think of the Centre as a two-sided mirror. From one side visitors look outward, to Europe; from the other, visitors look inward at Latvia and its arts.

Our main objective is to bring the public into the Centre. We think the Centre should be fun, free and an open invitation to all. It should be a place in which visitors can meet and feel at home in an artistic milieu and thus help stimulate the arts in Latvia.    

The Centre is not narrowly ‘national’ and does not limit itself to the existing collection but is a vital reflection of all the arts in Latvia.

We envision a close relationship between the Centre that must be sensitive to its immediate environment: its light, its trees, its proximity to the old town, its park and perspectives.

We conceive of the Centre as a series of open spaces available to all, without fee or restriction as to function, as a living organism which looks not only to the past, but also caters to the artistic aspiration of all Latvians of all ages and, we hope, engages them in the adventure of art through participation, study, and entertainment.

To this end we have included user-friendly, inviting spaces for new exhibits, for creative and scholarly activity, for photography, film, music and all the arts, as well as a café and a restaurant open to the public at all hours.


Environmental Design

Our aim is to maintain the environmental conditions of the site: – its light, trees and perspectives – while creating the ideal internal conditions for exhibition and preservation. Although the existing building and trees cast shadows, analysis has identified the best site in terms of availability of light in an area to the East of the museum. This offers optimum conditions for our extension, especially for temporary exhibition spaces which need the option to use natural light, without blocking views of the existing museum, or from the museum to the park. Other programs are positioned without the removal of existing trees. As the result of those environmental approaches, the unique form of the extension emerged allowing for the variety of spaces, ceiling heights and uses in the Centre.

Gianni Botsford


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