Under Threat: Museum of Occupation
by Gunārs Lūsis-Grīnbergs and Dzintars Driba, Riga, Latvia, 1970
"A plan for radical remodelling of the building of Occupation Museum in Riga 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 docomomo Working Party asks all colleagues worldwide to support its efforts in saving the significant monument of Modern Movement architecture."
You can sign the petition (download PDF ) and send it to the Latvian docomomo Working Party email: email@example.com