Capture the invisible

Šā gada janvārī diplomdarbus aizstāvēja līdz šim lielākais RISEBA arhitektūras absolventu skaits.
Capture the invisible

There were 30 students, 23 of whom obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Architecture and Urban Planning and 7 a Professional Master’s degree in Architecture and a qualification as an architect. The title of both the final theses and the international conference RIXARCH 2024 organised by the RISEBA Faculty of Architecture and Design is the English term blindspot, which cannot be translated directly into Latvian but is subject to various interpretations – blind spot, blind spot, invisible side, unnoticed thing and others. The interpretation of this term can also be interpreted in different ways. Firstly, it refers to the physiological concept of a blind spot, which defines it as a point on the retina of the optic nerve and which is insensitive to light. Most of the time, we do not see our own blind spot because the brain fills in the missing piece by combining information supplied by the two eyes or by making inferences about what might be in the blind spot. Secondly, a psychological tendency to overlook the impact of biases on one’s observations and judgements, such as gender inequalities in professional environments, stigmatic perceptions, or an explicitly purposeful tendency to overlook uncomfortable topics, can also be called a blind spot.

The chosen theme was broad and deep enough to inspire future graduates to look at familiar places and current affairs through this prism and to notice or look directly at the hidden (unnoticed) aspects of the chosen themes. Only by allowing oneself a wide range of freedom and creativity can these explorations and experiments lead to unexpected discoveries that inspire one to venture into the unknown, even to design outside the familiar territories – the territories chosen for the final works go as far as Kazakhstan and Portugal, and extend well into the depths of Latvia’s rural regions. The final projects were judged by a panel of LAS Board Chair, Dr. arch. Linda Leitāne, Honorary Professor Andris Kronbergs (ARHIS arhitekti), architect Ole Wiig (Norway/NSW), architect Gunta Grikmane (Sarma Norde Arhitekti), architect and Dean of the Faculty Rudolfs Dainis Smits (LV/US).

We will highlight two bachelor and two master theses. Juta Linde’s bachelor thesis Analogue Image: the Role of Drawings in Architecture (Part A), Development of Public Places by Acupuncture in the Moscow Forstadt Neighbourhood (Part B) investigates Riga’s urban landscapes, permeated by empty, abandoned areas and buildings that are slowly falling into decay. Utah’s chosen method provides a more empathetic approach to urban development with short-term, experimental and easy-to-implement design initiatives.

The project aims to address neglected public spaces in the Moscow Forstadt neighbourhood using an acupuncture urban design approach. By analysing five sites owned by the local municipality, conclusions were drawn about the functions of architectural installations that would contribute to site-specific public realm improvements and the involvement of local residents in the life of the neighbourhood. The following functions were installed: a place for gardening, a children’s playground, a teenager’s playground, a book exchange pavilion and a market pavilion. The installations were made of available materials so that they could be easily assembled and the neighbourhood could be involved in the process. The installations serve as a first step in the research, creating a dialogue between the new architecture and the existing environment. By observing how these features are used and interpreted by the locals, conclusions can be drawn about the neighbourhood’s potential for permanent improvements and future architecture. Supervisor. Ramon Cordova Gonzalez.

Alise Liene Meisīte in her bachelor thesis Architecture and Cars. Perception of Aesthetics (Part A, B) explored the phenomenological interconnection between the worlds of architecture and cars. “Subjective perceptions of architecture and objects such as the car shape what we see. The human gaze and the superficial beauty of modern constructions shape the vision of one person or society. The common language of form, function and aesthetics creates a space where synergies between the two can be found. For example, the view from a car, captured in a photograph, provides a different perspective on architectural and environmental aesthetics, leaving a significant impression.” The aim of the study is to define the boundaries of architecture in relation to the world of cars and, in the Latvian context, to create a vision for a project that would serve as a landmark in celebrating the car industry. Architecture and cars have a close relationship in the design world and influence on people’s daily lives in different environments. The project can contribute to a positive change in Latvian car culture. The basic idea of the pioneering design is derived from the landscaped linear typology of the airfield, which naturally also forms a link with the world of cars. Both static and in motion, car design incorporates the aspect of speed and movement, which changes the architectural design and spatial perspective. As a physical representation of the link between architecture and cars, a pedestrian walkway (sense of movement) and a peculiar tower structure (sense of the material world) are located next to the track, offering the visitor multiple viewpoints at different levels, as well as a gallery (sense of space) and a car centre – located to serve the visual promotion of the sector, complemented by exhibition spaces, an auditorium and a car design/service area.

Work supervisor. Mgr. Reinis Prēdelis. Katrinas Krastiņa’s daily observations in the public outdoor space of Ķekava inspired her to address social issues through spatial environmental design as part of her Master’s thesis. Her master thesis Promoting interaction between children and seniors: The Concept of Intergenerational Communication Space as a Tool for Designing Public Spaces in Ķekava (Part A), Intergenerational Education Centre in Ķekava (Part B), the research context was considered at global, regional (Latvia) and local (Ķekava city) scales, thus identifying the challenges related to the ageing society, the increasing number of children in the municipalities of the Baltic Sea Region and generational segregation, providing institutions for limited age users, as well as shrinking opportunities for intergenerational communication. The study identifies ways in which the spatial environment can foster interaction between children and seniors, reduce seniors’ feelings of loneliness and facilitate the exchange of experiences between different generations.

The thesis project applied the findings, methodology and interdisciplinary design guidelines developed in the theoretical study, adapting the theoretical principles to a real-world setting. The conceptual idea of the project was taken from the Ķekava allotment area, where senior gardens have areas for children with tree houses. This reflects an environment that promotes intergenerational interaction and the importance for children and seniors of spending time in nature, as well as functional areas of varying privacy – both to be alone and to socialise. The layout of the spaces, functions and areas carefully considered the functional, physical and visual links, ensuring a well thought-out layout of the indoor and outdoor spaces and thus different opportunities for children and seniors to interact. Supervisor. M.Sc. Urbanism Jānis Bērziņš.

Finally, the most discussed public outdoor space in Pārdaugava last year – Uzvaras Park and its therapeutic revitalisation in Linda Tinusa’s master thesis Place Therapy – Healing Past Traumas by Using Art to Layer the Identity of Uzvaras Park (Part A), Place Therapy – Unifying Uzvaras Park by Injecting Art – Latvian Museum of Modern Art (Part B).

The broken status of Uzvaras Park dates back gradually into the distant past – before Ukraine. The outbreak of the war was one of the jolts of change and clashes of ideologies between communities, political forces, neighbourhood residents and park visitors – a change in the future shape of the park. Although the park has undergone changes in the last few years, its potential to be an important place for local people has not yet been fulfilled.

Art is a mediator between social groups, able to speak a language that can be understood and interpreted by all, a platform for unrestricted debate. Another unfulfilled potential of the city of Riga and a significant cultural gap in society is the need for a home for Latvian contemporary art. The thirty-six hectares of Uzvaras Park, with its fragmented identity, could benefit from a symbiotic relationship or from adding art to the park in a healing way. The aim of the developed work is to find a sensitive therapeutic method to connect the fragmented territories and to patch up the fragile identity, memories and perceptions of Uzvaras Park, which was realised through the development of a layer therapy method: preserving and highlighting the existing incomplete and imperfect landscape of the park and fusing its values – history, activities and nature – together with the therapeutic tool of urban art.

The main concept of the building was to blend into the park and create a platform for art that shines like a beacon from the shore of Agenskalns Bay and invites new visitors to Riga’s expanded cultural centre (also by water). Building in the park and the park in the building – connecting with nature is a key part of the building’s form, by yielding to the existing trees, preserving the existing landscape, highlighting it and shaping the museum’s rhythm so that guests do not lose their connection with the green structure, creating pockets to display the changing views of the park, including a view of the historic centre of Riga framed in the main exhibition hall. Supervisors. Ilze Paklone and Mg. Theol. B. arch. Rudolfs Dainis Šmits.

Juta Linde, bachelor thesis “Development of public places with “acupuncture” method in the neighbourhood of Moscow Forstadt”.

Katrīna Krastiņa, master thesis “Intergenerational Education Centre in Ķekava”.

Linda Tinusa, Master’s thesis “Site Therapy – Unifying Uzvaras Park by Infusing Art – Latvian Museum of Modern Art”.

Alise Meisīte, bachelor thesis “Architecture and Cars. Perception of Aesthetics”.

Author of the text*: director of the Bachelor’s study programme “Architecture “ZANE VĒJA, MG. ARCH.
*text translated from Latvian

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