The State President Supports Plans by Rīga 2014
The President, having listened to A Kronbergs’ vision on the topics discussed, welcomed the proposals and ideas relating to the need for a stricter regulatory framework within the field of architecture, as well as the architect’s vision of the objectives of Rīga 2014. The participants agreed on the necessity of strengthening targeted cooperation between the Latvian State and the City of Riga in the context of 2014, in order for the EU Capital of Culture year and the subsequent first Latvian Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2015 to leave the country and city with a legacy – well-facilitated public spaces, new cultural infrastructure, service and transport facilities. The President emphasized his belief in prioritising the restoration and renovation of public facilities already in operation, and only then thinking about the construction of new facilities.
During the debate, A. Kronbergs stressed that both the Latvian Association of Architects and professional society overall appreciate that Riga has retained its City Architect’s Office: “It, together with the City Architect’s Council, must develop the political independence of professional opinion in the interests of the society at large. Assessing the role of Riga in national development, professional architect organizations consider that the services of a City Architect are essential for all large Latvian cities – Riga, Jūrmala, Daugavpils, Rēzekne, Liepaja and Ventspils – and also advisable in other cities – in the interests of cultural heritage preservation and high-quality development of the urban environment.” The architect explained that LAA is already working on legislation that would incorporate this provision within the laws of the Republic of Latvia. At the same time, LAA is working on documents that would bring order to and improve the professional environment, with the aim of developing an Architectural Profession Act, similar to other regulated professions. The President expressed his support for such an approach and promised to engage in the process of pushing the bill through when it is ready.
A. Kronbergs emphasized that in the short term, special attention should be paid to changes in open documents – the Development Plan and the Riga Historic Centre Plan – looking at them from the aspects of public interests and professionalism. The President acknowledged that efforts to create a Development Plan for Riga should concentrate on the creation and enhancement of public benefit, the development of public open space (including the waterfronts characteristic of Riga), and the upgrading of urban environment quality.
The speakers agreed that regarding the high-quality development of the environment of Latvia, planning, urban design and architecture are undoubtedly significant processes from the perspective of long-term national development and the quality of life of future generations.