Book spread. Press photo

A New Publication in Latvian Architecture Criticism 0

Interviewed by Anna Iltnere

In June, the newly founded society Nucleus will publish a book entitled V*X Latvijas arhitektūra kopš 1991. gada (V*X Latvian Architecture Since 1991), which surveys Latvian architecture from the last twenty years, seen through the prism of five architecture critics. Each of the critics represented in the book (Ausma Skujiņa, Jānis Lejnieks, Artis Zvirgzdiņš, Vents Vīnbergs, Pēteris Bajārs) choose what they though were the ten best examples of Latvian architecture. Each critic also worked with a photographer. Therefore the book consists of not only five different textual analyses of Latvian architecture, but also five different views of Latvian architecture in photographs. Jānis Lejnieks worked together with Indriķis Stūrmanis, Ausma Skujiņa with Gatis Rozenfelds, Vents Vīnbergs with Ansis Starks, Artis Zvirgzdiņš with Aivars Siliņš, and Pēteris Bajārs with Māris Lapiņš. The authors of the book’s concept were the design and architecture critic Kristīne Budže and the graphic designer Miķelis Baštiks (Asketic). We invited Kristīne Budže to tell us more about the new publication.

How did the idea for the project come about, and how did the team meet?

The idea for the book came about after a meeting in late 2009, when the Latvian Architects Union brought together everyone who writes about architecture in Latvia. The goal was to figure out what journalists and architecture critics could do to popularize Latvian architecture, and how to promote the recognizability of Latvian architecture here at home as well as abroad. At the meeting, the members concluded that there wasn’t a single publication which has surveyed Latvian architecture created since 1991.

Next, we developed the idea for what a book about the architecture of the last twenty years might look like. We thought that the most important thing was to dismantle a stereotype that still predominates among Latvian professional architects: that a survey of works created during a specific time period can only be a chronological survey, and that it is necessary to categorize architecture according to its functional duties. This time, the most essential aspect crystallized in the opinions of architecture critics from different generations, with various backgrounds, and with various styles of analysis.