Latviski / English

Riga, 27 May 2015




Modernist architecture under threat in Riga

Preservation of the 20th century modernist architecture is an issue of pressing urgency all around the world. After the end of the Cold War, it has been a subject of revisionist treatment in many countries, including Latvia. The post-war modernist architecture is being demolished or fully remodelled in order to hide testaments of the inconvenient socialist past. A whole period of architectural heritage is at risk of vanishing from cultural history.

There are three remarkable examples of post-war modernist architecture still surviving in Latvia, namely, the Salaspils Memorial (1967), the Daile Threatre (1976) and the Museum of the Occupation (1970). Professional opinion holds that all three are of international significance. Although the former two are included in the Latvian Cultural Canon, all three are under threat, particularly the latter.  Furthermore, the Museum of the Occupation is at the very heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site (reference number 852), the Historic Centre of Riga.

A plan for radical remodelling of the Museum building has been announced. The signatories of this letter strongly believe that, if the plan gets implemented, it will bring about an irreversible loss of an outstanding example of modernist architecture and also set a dangerous precedent for arbitrary alterations of urban environment. The opinion of UNESCO has always been held in high regard in Latvia and thus we call on you to support the efforts of preserving the modernist heritage and to provide an independent assessment of the situation from the standpoint of the international heritage protection standards.