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Book spread. Press photo

This is a book not only about the recent history of architecture, but also about today, about our ability to evaluate and reflect upon recent events and creations. In assembling the team, the most essential thing was to have architecture critics from the greatest possible range of generations and backgrounds, and with the greatest possible variety of analytical styles, participate in the evaluation, so that the publication wouldn’t be a compilation made by a group of people with the same views. Each of the architecture critics featured in the book assumes his or her own place and role in Latvia’s professional architecture milieu, yet here they all worked according to the same rules, without considering any of the analyses to be more valuable or more topical, or singled out in any other way. They are simply five different stories about Latvian architecture since 1991.

How long did it take to finish the book?

The content of the book was developed over the course of a single year (2010). Now it is being translated into English.

Why was the year 1991 chosen as a points of reference?

Latvian declared its independence in 1991. That year marks a boundary for cardinal changes in the methods and conditions for creating architecture, at the basis of which was the change in the state’s political system. But of course, we must take into account that nothing begins and ends at one specific time. Processes of changes, which result in some end result, flow and often overlap with one another, particularly in architecture, which for the most part thinks and works within larger units of measurement.

What is the current state of architecture criticism in Latvia? Does the book try to develop this field?

Latvians are more doers rather than thinkers and contemplators. Architecture, just like other fields, could wish for a more cultivated theoretical, conceptual, and reflective aspect. This time, unusually for Latvia, the book showcases the analysts of architecture, not the creators, commissioners, or users of architecture, and the industry is examined through their prism. The very existence of architecture criticism in Latvia is often doubted, not to even mention its quality or importance. The book actualizes the necessity of architecture criticism, and definitely shows not only its possibilities, but also its weaknesses.

How did the idea come about to assign each author his or her own photographer? And did each author choose which photographer to work with?

While working on the book, we always kept in mind that the result would be five different views on the architecture of the last two decades.