Authors: Sudraba arhitektūra | Arhitektes Lienes Griezītes studija
Architects: Liene Griezīte, Līga Apine, Reinis Liepiņš, Aiga Rozentāle, Kārlis Līcis, Roberts Valdmanis
Civil Engineering: SIA ”ARRA”, Aivars Vilmanish
Photo: courtesy of Sudraba arhitektūra | Arhitektes Lienes Griezītes studija
Location: Riga, Latvia
The architectural monument of 17th century, has been transformed into the contemporary mixed use building by the team of Latvian architects. Though the big part of the old building has been preserved intact, the novelty is evident. The original masonry and wooden structures have been left untouched – covered with historical patina, when the new elements of the building were inserted – transparent glass details, cobblestone flooring in the 1st floor entrance area for creating the feeling of street space is merged with interior, panoramic elevator and gorgeous metal stair.
Another interesting change has been made with the function of the building, the warehouse has been redesigned into the multifunctional space. The lower floors are fit for art galleries and stores, the next two – special Riga Down town offices with low ceilings, while the attic floors – two-level apartments with small tile roof terraces.
IDAAF has interviewed the head of project team Reinis Liepiņš via internet:
The new idea of the building is totally different from the old one, what’s more it is very interesting as it is mixed use – unites public, working and living spaces in itself. Where did this concept come from?
We began the design process by working out functional scheme of the building, which allowed creating mixed use spaces in all the floors, including living ones . The scheme was presented to client as a model of further development.
Originally the floors were united by narrow stairs with little openings in the ceilings. Each part of the building had separate vertical communication. As it was typical in this kind of warehouse buildings, there was not one main staircase – it would just occupy space that could be used for storage. We created a new place for the main staircase, which allowed creating different type spaces.
What was the wooden wheel used for? Was it some kind of elevator/hoist for the warehouse daily use? If so, why did you decide to leave this element in the new design both in interior and exterior?
Wooden wheels were used for lifting goods to the higher floors of the building. It was the main functional element of warehouse and consisted of two parts – wooden wheel, located inside the top floor, that was spun/turned by hand and rotating cylindrical axis with rope around it, at the facade of the top floor. Different goods like textiles, household goods, etc. were suspended in the ropes and lifted to the top floors.
There are two of these elements in this building – one in each part. The building itself as well as elements in it are State protected cultural monuments, preserving details was both an obligation and the main concept of this project.
Were there any elements of the old building which had to be demolished and could not be renovated because of their physical condition and you are disappointed that it was impossible to save them?
Luckily it was possible to preserve all elements that are considered valuable – walls, ceilings, roof construction, roof tiles, and details.
We had to remove 4 wooden beams in each floor in order to create new openings for staircase and elevator. I should note that staircase is a separate fireproof compartment which is why the glazing towards adjacent spaces is not as light as intended.
On the other hand the solution of locating new glass for existing window openings at the inner side of the wall is very successful. In the facade it gives an impression that there is no glass in the windows.
The work has received the award of the best reconstruction project on Latvian Architecture Grand Prix 2012.
More works by Sudraba arhitektūra can be found on their official web page.
Author: Tata Alkhazashvili