LAS, in cooperation with related non-governmental organisations, educational institutions and state institutions, participates in developing and implementing laws, research and other projects relevant to the architecture sector.
Industrial Heritage Days
In collaboration with the creative quarter Provodņiks, LAS organised a series of lectures and discussions calledIndustrial Heritage Daysthroughout the 2022 summer season. The following architectsshared their experience of industrial heritage, related contemporary challenges and future opportunities: Reinis Liepiņš, Uldis Lukševics, Liene Jākobsone, Manten Devriendt, Pēteris Bajārs, Artūrs Tols, Kristiāna Erta, Kārlis Jaunromāns and Andis Sīlis.
In its archive, the Latvian Association of Architects stores projects that have been considered for the Latvian Architecture Awards over the last 20 years. In reviewing this collection, it was possible to create a retrospective of the recent history of Latvian architecture and urban planning, capturing the spirit of the beginning of the 21stcentury while highlighting timeless projects that are more than just products of their era. Authors of the exhibition: Ivars Veinbergs, Elīna Lībiete, Linda Leitāne.
On September 12, a meeting was held at the Architects’ House with candidates for the 14thSaeima. The views of various parties’ representatives were clarified regarding issues such as the Law on Architecture and its adoption in the Saeima, housing policy in Latvia and the main issues in this topic area.
Representatives of 9 parties came to the meeting: the Progressives, the People’s Servants for Latvia, Sovereign Power, the Union of Greens and Farmers, Harmony, the National Alliance, the Conservatives, Development/For!, and Republic. Other participants included National Architectural Council representative Gatis Didrihsons, Latvian Association of Architects representative Sandra Treija, and the City of Riga’s chief landscape architect Indra Purs. The discussion was moderated by Neils Balgalis.
During the culture forum Baltā nakts(White Night), the Architects’ House featured an audiovisual exhibition focusing on the contrast between artificial and natural intelligence. The contrast was illustrated through architecture: while a vision generated by artificial intelligence can neither be tracked nor predicted, the installation revealed the architect’s creative work process in all its unromantic and technological aspects. Authors of the installation: Ivars Veinbergs, Elīna Lībiete, Linda Leitāne, Mārtiņš Dāboliņš, Gatis Ziema.
On June 8, the Sub-Council of Tripartite Cooperation in Professional Education and Employment approved new guidelines for the architectural profession. Following the provisions of the forthcoming Law on Architecture, the guidelines expand architects’ scope of professional work to include public activities, pedagogy, research, journalism, and involvement in shaping architectural policy and processes. The guidelines were developed by a working group that included practicing architects Edgars Treimanis, Ilma Valdmane and Aleksejs Birjukovs, as well as representatives of universities: Aldis Lapiņš of Riga Technical University, Dainis Rūdolfs Šmits of RISEBA University, and Dina Suhanova, who is involved in the future architecture programme of the Art Academy of Latvia. The working group was led by Head of the Certification Centre Elīna Rožulapa, while Anna Bondare provided standard methodological guidance.
In the Latvian construction sector, a transition from lowest price procurement to most economically advantageous procurement has been taking place since 2017, when guidelines were developed in cooperation with LAS for criteria to determine the most economically advantageous offer in construction and design and buildprocurement. With this year’s amendments to the Public Procurement Law, such guidelines will also be developed for design procurement. LAS is working on these guidelines in cooperation with the Procurement Monitoring Bureau and State Real Estate.
In 2019 and 2020, with the support of the Ministry of Culture, the Latvian Association of Architects conducted in-depth research on architects’ practice, planning to use the results in improving Latvian architecture policy and sector legislation. The research covered a wide range of statistical and practice issues. The goal was to prepare a statistical description of the Latvian architecture sector by compiling and analysing data on business indicators, employment, remuneration, the number of certified architects, professional performance indicators, architectural procurement and other aspects. In 2020, the impact of COVID-19 on the sector was also considered.
With the support of the State Culture Capital Foundation, LAS has created content for a unique continuing education project, The Architect and Building Culture: Master Classes. The project aims to shed light on aspects of the professional work environment, viewing everyday skills as a set of carefully maintained tools. In a series of short lectures, the experience of everyday practicing architects was revealed step by step, and an answer was sought to the question of whether it is possible to impart competence, learning from mistakes, and hidden solutions gained in this distinguished work from generation to generation.
For more than 15 years, LAS has actively followed all activities related to the national concert hall; LAS has supported and been actively involved in the efforts of the Ministry of Culture to realise this culturally significant building. Given the long-standing unresolved situation, LAS has proposed creating a working group on selecting the potential site of the concert hall with representatives of involved/responsible institutions and interdisciplinary fields. This would ensure constructive, strategic and professional cooperation between the involved parties and stimulate more effective and faster implementation of the project in accordance with the public interest. LAS has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Culture with criteria for developing a concert hall strategy, as well as for comparative analysis and selection of sites, in order to ensure the involvement of industry experts, end users, politicians and the wider public.
The purpose of LAS’s solution is to objectively evaluate all the potential sites suggested so far and currently proposed in the public space, following internationally recognised site selection and pre-project stage development guidelines, in order to nominate the most suitable location for the national concert hall’s realisation.
LAS, responding to a call by Minister of Culture Nauris Puntulis, has proposed a plan for selecting the national concert hall’s location.The evaluation of potential sites entails a vision consolidated from the public as well as from specialists and institutions in the respective fields. It is to be achieved in successive steps, including work with several focus groups and analysis of potential sites according to specific internationally approved criteria. LAS has compiled 36 sites proposed by individuals, professional groups, non-governmental organisations and legal entities.
LAS made a preliminary selection from the 36 potential sites compiled. This was based on essential technical criteria determined by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with LAS: location in the context of Riga’s historical centre, proprietorship, sufficient area of the land plot. The selection was made by a committee of professionals specially created by the LAS Council that included architect Gunta Grikmane; architect, Head of RTU’s History and Theory of Architecture Department, Professor, Dr. habil. arch. Jānis Krastiņš; architect, Professor, Dr. arch. Sandra Treija; architect Dace Kalvāne; architect Viktors Valgums Jr.; and architect Barbara Bula. 11 sites were selected for in-depth analysis.
In the second stage, the Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with LAS, engaged professionals in the procurement procedure for in-depth evaluation of the 11 selected sites according to uniform and comparable criteria. The involvement of related industry experts, end users, broader society and decision-making bodies was also ensured by organising public and stakeholder workshops and focus group discussions. LAS considered the results of the work of MASH Studio (Lithuania) – the authors of the comparative study – and Grupa93 (Latvia): the creators of the focus group discussions. The research included an assessment of the sites’ strategic potential, reachability and accessibility and the locations’ readiness for development, examining legal criteria and associated risks. The locations’ costs were estimated, and an evaluation was made of the sites’ capacities, the urban context and the possibility of creating an eye-catching building. The compliance of the project’s implementation with sustainability principles was also examined, the public’s reaction was modelled, and comparable examples of international concert hall projects were considered.
LAS nominated three sites as having the greatest potential in terms of strategic and urban development and impact on future society: Andrejsala at Andrejostas iela 17, Riga Congress Centre at Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela 5, and the territory of the Industrial Goods Market between Gaiziņa iela, Prāgas iela and Turgeņeva iela.
On October 22, the Latvian Association of Architects sent an open letter to RB Rail, the Ministry of Transport and the Riga City Council, On the development of Rail Baltica’s Riga section project, in which they expressed concern about fragmentation and isolation of city neighbourhoods in the event of the project’s implementation. Rail Baltica’sofficially communicated planning techniques are embankments, cuts, and fences, which are not tools for creating a modern environment. LAS called for an evaluation of the project’s potential benefits against the planned investments, which relates not only to the putative costs of implementation, but also to the planned division and isolation of neighbourhoods and, therefore, the inevitable decline in quality of life and the value of real estate.
On August 4, a meeting of LAS representatives with candidates for the Riga City Council took place to present LAS’s perspectives on city development issues: the Law on Architecture, creating a city development plan, and city development institutions – the City Architects’ Office, the City Development Department, the construction board.Representatives of the following political parties participated in the discussion: the National Alliance, the Latvian Regional Alliance, Honour to Serve Riga, KPV LV, New Harmony, Development/For!, the Progressives, New Unity, the Union of Greens and Farmers, Harmony, the New Conservative Party, United for Latvia, National UnionJustice, and the Centre Party.
In reviewing Order No. 341 of the Cabinet of Ministers of 18.06.2020 on the construction of a national concert hall in Riga, Elizabetes iela 2 – and summarising views expressed in meetings, discussions and debates organised by LAS – members of the Council of the Latvian Association of Architects consistently advocated a modern approach to implementing the concert hall’s construction in accordance with good governance principles. The LAS Council found that the current process does not comply with such principles, and this is slowing down the achievement of the goal: to build a national concert hall of societal importance. Therefore, the Council calls for the cancellation of the decision to demolish the building at Elizabetes iela 2.
On July 7, a meeting of representatives of LAS and the Latvian Association of Civil Engineers was held to discuss Order No. 341 of the Cabinet of Ministers of 18.06.2020 on the construction of a concert hall in Riga, Elizabetes iela 2. During the discussion, the participants came to conclusions that are summarised in a joint statement. LAS and the Latvian Association of Civil Engineers agree on the concert hall’s construction and do not wish to halt the process started by the Ministry of Culture and the government; however, they express their desire to participate and help guide this process onto a professional and socially responsible track.
LAS, in cooperation with the Latvian Association of Civil Engineers, the Association of Heat, Gas and Water Technology Engineers of Latvia, the Latvian Electricians’ Brotherhood, and the Latvian Association of Structural Engineers, developed and adopted the professional good practice guidelines Project Stages. The document’s goals are to ensure the quality of construction projects in all their aspects, systematise the composition of construction projects in terms of implementation stages, provide methodical support to those involved in implementing construction projects (including state and local government institutions in drawing up technical specifications for design procurement), and determine the minimum amount of basic services of architects and engineers. The guidelines have been submitted to the Ministry of Economics for integration into the General Construction Regulationsand other regulatory acts related to the new Construction Law.
A working group of the Latvian Association of Architects under the leadership of Ilze Miķelsone created an informational document, Latvian Architecture Policy 2020, which summarises information on the current architectural cultural policy in Latvia. In five sections, it considers the most important definitions and strategies of the sector’s cultural policy and the most essential information on the sector’s legal basis, specifies institutions and organisations related to architecture, identifies professional education opportunities, and depicts the most important events in informing the wider public about architecture.
The Latvian Association of Architects (Elīna Rožulapa), in cooperation with SIA Virtu(Anda Kursiša) and SIA Excolo Latvia(Gints Klāsons), conducted a study, the goal of which was to prepare a statistical description of the Latvian architecture sector by compiling and analysing data on business indicators, employment in the sector, remuneration, the number of certified architects, performance indicators, architectural procurement and other aspects. Data on the sector’s business activity and employment was obtained from the Central Statistical Bureau; data on its labour market and remuneration was obtained from the State Revenue Service; and data on its public procurement was obtained from the Procurement Monitoring Bureau. In addition, a quantitative survey of certified architects was carried out, as well as a quantitative survey of practice / company managers. Finally, data was prepared for international comparison in the report The Architectural Profession in Europe – Ace Sector Study.
Mobile app Arhiguide
The Latvian Association of Architects created a free mobile app, Arhiguide, which enables residents and guests of the city to get to know the most interesting architectural sites in Riga. It includes information on various buildings’ architecture, the city’s history, the environment, events and personalities. The site descriptions displayed in the app were composed by architect, architectural theorist and author of numerous books Professor Jānis Krastiņš and architecture journalist and editor of the platform A4DArtis Zvirgzdiņš.
One of the most important tasks set forth in Latvia’s architecture strategy is developing the Draft Law on Architecture. In cooperation with LAS, the Ministry of Culture has been working on this for a considerable length of time. The draft law is being formulated with the aim of establishing prerequisites for creating a sustainable and quality architectural-spatial environment, thus ensuring everyone’s right to live in a favourable environment. Until now, the professional field has been governed by the Construction Law and respective regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers. The main tasks of the Law on Architecture are to improve the sector’s legal system, regulate the architectural profession and strengthen the sector’s professional self-government. The draft law has been discussed several times at meetings of the National Architectural Council and was presented at the Congress of the Latvian Association of Architects on April 20, 2018.
The Latvian Association of Architects developed and approved the Good Practice Guidelines for Competitions, the purpose of which is to preserve and sustain the tradition of organising competitions, which has evolved considerably over time. The guidelines stipulate the principles according to which competitions should be organised and which correspond to good practice, taking into account international experience and regulatory acts of the Republic of Latvia. They also precisely define different types of competitions and the practice of holding them, activities and duties of the jury, the competition process, and copyright and award issues.
The updated version of the guidelines was prepared by LAS Board member Mg. arh. Linda Leitāne-Šmīdberga and is also based on other LAS members’ proposals and sworn lawyer Edgars Pastars’s recommendations.
For several years, LAS has participated in developing the new Construction Law and has been actively involved in creating the respective regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers. It has presented its proposals, yet these have not always been evaluated and taken into account. The Zolitūde tragedy led to significant corrections in the attitude of decision-makers towards the construction sector’s problems; however, the responsible state institutions did not acknowledge that the development of the Construction Law in the previous period was based on false assumptions and an insufficient understanding of the process. The previous guidelines were not analysed and fundamentally corrected; instead, cosmetic improvements to regulatory acts were hastily made.
Given the regulatory base’s disorganisation as well as trends in how the architect’s responsibility is treated, LAS advises certified architects not to sign construction site documents (acceptance certificates for covered work and important structures, construction work logs, etc.) that do not derive from the architectural supervisor’sduties defined in regulatory acts until the limits of responsibility of the construction participants, including certified specialists of various professions involved in the construction, are precisely defined in the regulatory framework.
In 2015, together with invited experts, a working group of the National Architectural Council of Latvia initiated by the Ministry of Culture developed the Architecture Sector Strategy 2015-2020. It is equivalent to other cultural sectors’ strategies and is currently considered the main architecture policy document. Until the end of 2015, the sector’s main policy document was the Architecture Policy Guidelines for 2009-2015, on which the Latvian Architecture Strategy 2020 is based.
The Architecture Policy Guidelines determine the national architecture policy for the next seven years. They include the main principles, goals, priorities, policy results and desired courses of action to achieve them. The document’s purpose is to clarify the role and importance of architecture in the sustainable development of the country.
A working group of the Latvian Association of Architects under the leadership of Ilze Miķelsone has created an informational document, Latvian Architecture Policy 2020, which summarises the current architectural cultural policy in Latvia. In five sections, it considers the most important definitions and strategies of the sector’s cultural policy and the most essential information on the sector’s legal basis, specifies institutions and organisations related to architecture, identifies professional education opportunities, and depicts the most important events in informing the wider public about architecture.
In Latvia, the architecture sector is part of the construction sector, and its legal basis is currently formed by regulatory acts adopted at different periods of time. The current legal framework for construction is based on the Construction Law adopted by the Saeima on August 14, 2013, and effective since October 1, 2014. It stipulates construction participants’ mutual relations; their rights and obligations in the construction process; and their responsibility for the compliance of a structure with its task, economic viability, expected service life and the respective regulatory acts. It also specifies the authority of state administration and local government institutions in the respective fields of construction. The construction procedure is governed by the regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers of August 19, 2014, General Construction Regulations.
Since March 1, 2003, general supervision and coordination of construction in the country has been carried out by the Ministry of Economics. The Ministry is responsible for developing and implementing a unified state construction policy. Its functions in this area are defined in the Construction Law, and they include working on construction development strategies and programmes, preparing proposals for improving regulatory acts on construction, and drafting such acts.
The Draft Law on Architecturehas been developed to provide a legal basis for governing the architecture sector, regulating the architectural profession, and creating a quality architectural-spatial environment that ensures everyone’s right to live in a favourable environment by integrating the principles of the Davos Declaration on high-quality building culture (Baukultur) into Latvian legislation.
The construction process is regulated by the Construction Law, the General Construction Regulationsand individual construction regulations, and they are applied to the construction of new objects, as well as to the reconstruction of existing ones, their renewal, restoration, demolition, placement, change of use without reconstruction and conservation. The construction sector’s regulatory basis consists of numerous laws and regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers, compiled in a list of regulatory acts according to construction process, starting with general regulatory acts, then planning – design preparation – design – construction work – special construction regulations – operation and other binding regulatory acts. A list of standards applicable to the compliance assessment of construction products is also available.
SUS.lv provides an opportunity to promptly review valid Riga development planning documents, reports on strategy implementation, research conducted in Riga City Council structural units since 2003, and statistical information about Riga.
The Ministry of Environmental Protectionand Regional Development is responsible for regulatory acts / laws concerning spatial development planning, regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers and judgments of the Constitutional Court.
The Latvian Association of Architects, in cooperation with the Latvian Association of Civil Engineers, the Association of Heat, Gas and Water Technology Engineers of Latvia, the Latvian Electricians’ Brotherhood, and the Latvian Association of Structural Engineers, has developed and adopted the professional good practice guidelines Project Stages. The document’s main goals are to ensure the quality of construction projects in all their aspects, systematise the composition of construction projects in terms of implementation stages, provide methodical support to those involved in implementing construction projects (including state and local government institutions in drawing up technical specifications for design procurement), and determine the minimum amount of basic services of architects and engineers. The guidelines have been submitted to the Ministry of Economics for integration into the General Construction Regulationsof the Cabinet of Ministers and other regulatory acts related to the new Construction Law.
The document will be reviewed and updated periodically according to real practice and recommendations received. Please send suggestions to email@example.com.
LAS has created the Good Practice Guidelines for Competitions, which are recommended for architectural, interior, landscape architecture, design, monumental art and similar competitions. The guidelines have been developed on the basis of the Public Procurement Law and doctoral thesis Architectural Competitions in Latvia by Linda Leitāne.
The Architect’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct stipulates architects’ conduct and ethical principles in accordance with the Architects’ Council of Europe’s Deontological Code for Providers of Architectural Services and is consistent with the Directive on Services in the Internal Market (2006/123/EC)of the European Parliament and of the Council. The Code’s purpose is to define the general principles of architects’ activity: in offering society specific knowledge, professional skills and abilities important for creating and developing the cultural environment, architects implement the highest standards of impartiality, objectivity, confidentiality, honesty, proficiency, professionalism and service quality in their professional activity.
Four ministries handle matters of public administration that are directly or indirectly related to the architecture sector in Latvia: the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Economics, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Developmentand the Ministry of Education and Science. In order to create a regular, effective and constructive dialogue with society and especially with non-governmental organisations representing businesspeople, the ministries have established a number of advisory councils. These councils discuss and coordinate regulations, policy planning documents, new policy initiatives for improving the business environment and other matters relevant to the development of economic sectors with representatives of more than 100 non-governmental organisations.
National Architectural Council of Latvia
The Council is under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and is a collegial advisory institution whose purpose is to coordinate and promote cooperation between state institutions and industry professionals in strategic matters related to developing the architecture industry and creating a quality cultural environment in Latvia. LAS representatives have been members of the Council since its establishment 2009.
Construction Council of Latvia
The Council is an advisory coordinating institution whose purpose is to promote public participation in developing and implementing construction policy. The Council expresses its opinion to the Ministry of Economics and other sectoral ministries and submits proposals on regulatory acts, policy planning documents, and EU international legal acts in the construction sector. 15 representatives of non-governmental organisations are elected to the Council. LAS has been a member of the Council since its establishment in 2014.
The SCCB started operating on October 1, 2014, with the aim of ensuring quality and safety in construction in accordance with the functions specified in regulatory acts. It is a public administrative institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Economics and carries out state control of construction work, monitors buildings’ operation, organises inspections and grants independent practice rights, also monitoring them.
The SCCF is a public foundation operating in accordance with its law and regulations. It aims to promote balanced development of creative activity in the cultural and artistic sectors and preservation of cultural heritage according to state cultural policy guidelines. The SCCF does not carry out commercial activities, and its purpose is not to make a profit. Once a year, it announces tenders for the creation of expert committees, and LAS regularly appoints representatives to committees related to architecture and cultural heritage.
The SIHP is a direct administrative institution subordinated to the Minister of Culture; it implements state policy and control in the protection of cultural monuments and identifies cultural heritage, conducts research and carries out monument inventory. The SIHP aims to create and develop a convenient and professional cultural heritage protection system which, in accordance with internationally recognised principles, helps managers and users of cultural monuments preserve assets in a quality manner and prevents activities that degrade cultural-historical assets.
The Museum was founded in 1994 as a structural unit of the State Inspection for Heritage Protection (then the State Inspectionfor the Protection of Cultural Monuments). It was created with the mission of providing the general public with an idea of both historical and modern Latvian architecture – its nature and development on the world stage – in order to promote the formation of an educated and interested society in matters of architecture and quality surroundings.
Unlike architectural centres, museums are characterised by collections. Archives store the designs of constructed buildings, but unrealised designs, architectural utopias and ideas are sometimes more important in the sector’s development than what has been constructed. Technical drawings obscure the creative process, historical circumstances, and train of thought that moves the course of history forward. The Museum’s collection records the creative work of architects associated with Latvia, and its core collection currently contains approximately 15 thousand items / original works: sketches, drawings, and building models. The Museum has created a register of architects educated in Latvia, and its scientific archive contains manuscripts, documents and photographs of architects.
The Council operates on the basis of the Law on Preservation and Protection of the Historic Centre of Riga. Its purpose is to promote and provide opinions on the planning of this territory, evaluate plans for the construction of new objects, the reconstruction or demolition of buildings, and the installation and restoration of monuments in the historical centre of Riga and its protection zone. It provides opinions to the State Inspection for Heritage Protection and the Riga City Council institution responsible for protecting cultural monuments on the impact of various transformations on the cultural-historical environment. It also has other functions in accordance with the Law on Preservation and Protection of the Historic Centre of Riga. LAS representatives have been members of the Council since its establishment in 2003.
The Certification Centre of the Latvian Association of Architects
The Centre, acting according to a delegation agreement from the Ministry of Economics, monitors certified architects’ practice and registers certificates. It is autonomous and impartial in relation to applicants and persons to be certified, as well as their employers, cooperation partners and clients. The Centre makes decisions independently based on regulatory acts, professional standards of good practice and quality criteria. It understands the importance of integrity, manages conflicts of interest and ensures objectivity in all certification activities. Its board members are certified architects with at least 10 years of independent practice experience and impeccable professional reputations.
The construction board of a city or region is a municipal institution under the authority of the chair of the city council or region. It coordinates and carries out the supervision and control of construction processes in the respective administrative territory. Its activities are controlled and supervised by the city development committee. A construction board includes an architecture division, a construction control division, an urban design division, a greenery division and other structural units. Its purpose is to promote simplification of the construction supervision process, transparency, and its members’ understanding of established procedures; to create a harmonious and balanced urban environment; and to ensure that construction processes in the city proceed in a legal manner.
The State Inspection for Heritage Protection is a direct administrative institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture that implements state policy concerning cultural monument protection. The SIHP aims to create and develop a convenient and professional cultural heritage protection system which, in accordance with internationally recognised principles, helps managers and users of cultural monuments preserve assets in a quality manner and prevents activities that degrade cultural-historical assets.The SIHP also aims to ensure that local society understands, appreciates and protects Latvia’s valuable cultural-historical environment.
Having been liquidated, the Riga City Construction Board and the Riga City Architects’ Officehave relinquished their tasks to the City Development Department of Riga City Council. The Department oversees and coordinates development processes; ensures the legality of the construction process, incl. performing the functions of a municipal construction board; ensures a balanced development of mobility; monitors the quality of the architectural process and the development of a quality urban environment; oversees and controls environmental object placement, urban greenery, and land development; and ensures the protection of cultural-historical assets and the assignment of addresses.
Advisory Council for the Creation of Monuments, Memorial Signs and Memorial Sites
The Advisory Council was established in June 2021 and includes representatives of state and local government institutions, the Latvian Association of Architects, the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, and the Latvian Artists’ Union. Its purpose is to promote the cooperation of institutions in decision-making on matters concerning the installation of monuments and memorial signs and the creation of memorial sites, as well as on matters concerning the placement of information boards near objects which do not meet the status of state-protected cultural monuments, but which are located in societally important places as monuments or memorials. The Council convenes meetings once a month.
The Procurement Monitoring Bureau is a subordinate institution of the Ministry of Finance. Its purpose is to implement the functions of state administration in monitoring procurement procedures. The Bureau’s main areas of activity are as follows: examining submissions involving public procurement and public-private partnership; providing methodological assistance to clients, public service providers and suppliers; examining cases of administrative violations involving public procurement and public-private partnership; in such cases as specified in regulatory acts, checking procurement notices and their publication on the Procurement Monitoring Bureau website and in the Official Journal of the European Union; collecting and providing statistical information on procurement and concessions in the country; and preparing reports and monitoring compliance of procurement and concession procedures with regulatory acts.
The Construction Information System (CIS) is an electronic environment that ensures circulation of information among participants of the construction process and maintains registers necessary for the construction process as well as e-services related to the process and the registers. Currently, the construction information system has 8 registers, a unified electronic working time accounting database and 71 e-services. The portal consists of a public section and a section that can be accessed by authorised users. The public section contains information on current events in construction, register information and statistics. Upon authentication, it is possible to make inquiries and submissions electronically. The CIS is managed by the State Construction Control Bureau (SCCB).
The European Union’s architecture policy guidelines are based on the recommendations of the European Forum for Architectural Policies (EFAP), an international network created to support and advance architecture and architecture policy in Europe. EFAP brings together representatives of various institutions (including ministries and the public service sector), cultural institutions (architectural museums, research institutes and similar institutions), and architects’ professional organisations in the broadest sense of the term. EFAP was established during the Dutch Presidency of the EU in 1997 as a result of an international meeting dedicated to architecture policy that gathered representatives from government agencies, cultural institutions and professional organisations to exchange views and experience related to such policy.
The Davos Declaration adopted at the World Economic Forum’s Conference of Ministers of Culture fosters the concept of high-quality building culture (Baukultur), recognising construction not only as an economic but also as a cultural event. The Declaration highlights architectural quality, responsibility towards values created by previous generations, and the quality of life of present and future society. It calls for supporting actions and measures to promote and implement high-quality building culture.
The creation of landscape policies in European countries is largely influenced by the European Landscape Convention, adopted in Florence on October 20, 2000. The Convention emphasises that landscape is a fundamental component of European natural and cultural heritage, a common heritage and a benefit. The Convention also addresses the need to recognise and preserve this common heritage, using it to promote the local economy as well. Latvia is one of the 38 countries that have ratified this convention. By joining it in 2007, Latvia undertook to create a landscape policy and promote implementation of the measures specified in the Convention.
Countries around the world have endorsed the UN’s New Urban Agenda, an agreement on a vision for sustainable human settlement development that includes a commitment to plan, design, finance, develop, manage and govern cities and human settlements.
Other international documents
As a member state of the European Union, Latvia is also bound by numerous other international documents pertaining to architecture and landscape, including the following:
LAS’s participation in international organisations
The Latvian Association of Architects is a member of several organisations representing architectural practice internationally: the International Union of Architects, the Baltic Architects Unions Association, the Architects’ Council of Europe, and the European Forum for Architectural Policies. Participation in international organisations is financed by state funds, while visits to events are financed partly by the State Culture Capital Foundation and partly by LASmembers’ private funds and those of sponsors.
The Venice Biennale international exhibition of architecture
Since 2002, Latvia has participated in the Venice Biennale of Architecture nine times. Initially, the Latvian Association of Architects organised the idea contest and project coordination for participating in the Biennale, but in recent years, the Ministry of Culture has taken on the responsibility of representing the country – organising the idea contest, allocating funding and cooperating long-term with the Biennale office.
Recognition in international competitions
Prestigious international competitions in which Latvian architects have participated and won recognition include the European Union’s Mies van der Rohe Award, the Council of Europe’s European Museum of the Year, the American Architecture Prize, the Architizer A+Awards, the International Architecture Awards of the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, the East Centric Arhitext Awards, the biennale of young architects Leonardo, and Europe 40 under 40. Achievements in both local and international competitions raise the profile of architects and architecture in society.
Numerous educational institutions in Latvia offer architectural studies and training at various levels:
Riga Technical University
The RTU Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning is a higher education institution in Latvia that prepares specialists in architecture at all levels of higher education. During studies, it is possible to acquire additional knowledge in spatial planning and restoration of cultural monuments, as well as in interior and landscape architecture.
RISEBA University of Applied Sciences
RISEBA is a higher education institution in Latvia offering an international architecture bachelor’s programme in English according to the best US and European architecture education standards. Studies take place in the architecture and media centre H2O6.
Riga Building College
In RBC’s various college (first-level vocational higher education) and secondary school programmes, it is possible to learn the professions of assistant architect and architectural technician, as well as other trades related to construction and restoration.
Daugavpils Construction Technical School
The School offers vocational secondary and basic education, vocational training, and professional continuing education programmes. It is possible to obtain the specialty of architectural technician at the School.
Vidzeme Technology and Design Vocational School
The School is a vocational secondary education institution that combines two vocational schools: Priekuļi Technical School and Cēsis Secondary School of Technology and Design. It is possible to learn the profession of architectural technician here as well.
Liepaja Music, Art and Design Secondary School
The School was created by merging Emilis Melngailis Liepaja Music High School and Liepaja Design and Art High School. It is an institution of vocational secondary education that has been granted the status of vocational education competence centre and where it is possible to learn the profession of architectural technician.
In 2021, an institute was established at the Art Academy of Latvia, the purpose of which is to ensure achievement of the strategic goals of the Academy as a scientific institution in research in the humanities and arts. The institute’s main activity is related to applied and fundamental research in the fieldsof contemporary art, design and architecturein Latvia and the broader international context.
A unique architecture education programme for primary school pupils, Skolnieks Pētnieks Pilsētnieks, has been active for several years under the auspices of the Latvian Association of Architects, gaining popularity in Latvian schools. In it, young architects hold interactive lessons for pupils on architecture, the urban environment and creating spaces. The SPP experts aim to develop a methodical tool for schools in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science. In the future, this will enable such lessons to be integrated into the school curriculum without the involvement of the architects themselves.
The Workshop is organised every year by the architects’ office Nams(LAS Council member Sergejs Ņikiforovs) in cooperation with RTU’s Faculty of Architecture, Riga Building College, RISEBA’s Faculty of Architecture and Design, and the Department of Architecture and Construction of LLU.
Architecture summer school
In 2003, the RTU Faculty of Architecture started organising an international summer school for students of architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, design, geography, visual arts and social sciences. Initially, its purpose was to promote Riga’s architectural heritage and introduce young people from abroad to study opportunities at RTU, as well as to expand the faculty’s circle of international partners. Over time, the boundaries of the summer school expanded both thematically and in terms of attracting students from increasingly distant countries who wished to supplement their theoretical knowledge and gain practical skills by working in interdisciplinary teams and trying out various experimental methods in urban research and design. The summer school has functioned not only as a testing ground and creative laboratory for students, but also as an idea generator for cities where it has taken place: Riga, Valka and Valga, Liepaja, and Cēsis. The students’ proposals for spatial developmenthave stimulated discussions and broader public involvement in solving specific problems. The RTU Faculty of Architecture student government carries on the summer school tradition.
Continuing education in architecture is a developing process, its official definitions having evolved rapidly in recent years. They mainly entail a legal requirement for construction specialists to increase their competence in professional development programmes. With the support of the Ministry of Culture, LAS has established a permanent structural unit, Professional Development Measures, which regularly organises continuing education seminars on current topics for practicing architects and other interested parties. These seminars are mandatory for maintaining certificates.
Founded in 1995, LAAA is a professional association of landscape architecture specialists. The profession of landscape architect combines the creation of landscape art with planning a landscape’s utility or functionality. The Association aims to promote and develop knowledge, technical expertise and responsibility in landscape architects’ professional activities and to maintain and further cultivate the traditions of Latvian landscape architecture.
Latvian Architectural Information Centre (LAIC)
The Centre operates on the basis of a cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Culture and LAS that provides for the delegation of certain state administration tasks to the Latvian Association of Architects. Tasks to be delegated include the following: selecting and compiling current information on the architecture sector and ensuring its circulation to various target audiences, as well as offering architects professional development opportunities; providing information on news and achievements in the sector, as well as educating the public and creating awareness of quality architecture and living space in various target audiences of society throughout Latvia; providing and compiling current information on architectural practice issues by creating and developing a base of relevant information that includes data on practicing architects, architects’ offices, legal acts regulating architectural practice, tenders, industry news, etc.; representing Latvian architecture in events of national and international importance; and creating public awareness of quality architecture, the built environment, and the role of architecture in fostering societal well-being, as well as stimulating interest in the achievements of Latvian contemporary architecture.
The Foundation is a public benefit organisation that supports activities related to architecture and creating public spaces. The Foundation’s main goal is to promote exchange of information, ideas and experience, as well as to foster discussion in the professional environment and society. Its activity is not for profit; the events it organises are informative, educational and aimed at a professional and student audience.
The association Pilsēta cilvēkiem(City for People) was established in January 2016 to encourage the creation of a favourable urban environment in Riga and other Latvian cities. The association advocates safe, quick and convenient movement from point A to point B, whether on foot or by bicycle, public transport or car.
The association Free Rigais a public benefit organisation that originated in 2013 when several enthusiasts from the culture and urban studies sectors began organising activities to open up unused buildings for Riga residents and provide premises for those who carry out social activities, i.e., work in the field of culture, help socially disadvantaged and low-income groups and are looking for new solutions or starting innovative projects.
CCUL is an umbrella organisation of ten creative unions with over 3,000 members and includes LAS. It was founded and continues to operate with a vision of maintaining and developing the Latvian language and culture as the foundation of our state. CCUL is the largest non-governmental organisation of the cultural sector, protecting the professional, social and economic rights and interests of those working in it. It has joined the Civic Alliance, an association whose goal is to strengthen civil society in Latvia, supporting the common interests of non-governmental organisations and creating a favourable environment for the activities of associations and foundations. In accordance with its competence and capabilities, CCUL maintains links with state administrative institutions in the fields of culture, finance and health, as well as with parliamentary groups in the Saeima. Its representatives work in the Assembly of the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO, the National Culture Council, the Song and Dance Festival Council, the National Cultural Education Council, the Copyright Law and Creative Industries Working Group, the Council of the State Culture Capital Foundation, and the Culture Alliance, a cooperation platform for state administration and non-governmental organisations.
The Centre is a group of non-governmental organisations in the construction sector that includes 22 industry organisations, from the Latvian Association of Architects to the Latvian Association of Civil Engineers (the organisation uniting construction companies), to construction material manufacturers. Once every two to three weeks, representatives of the largest organisations meet to discuss and coordinate non-governmental organisations’ views on issues relevant to the sector.
The Association is an independent public organisation uniting more than 30 of Latvia’s largest construction contractors. The partnership’s goal is to promote sustainable development of the sector based on such values as safety, quality, international competitiveness and responsibility. The partnership creates an effective dialogue between the sector and the Latvian state, working tirelessly to achieve this goal.
The journal Latvijas Architektūrahas been published for 20 years; it is currently the most voluminous publication addressed to architecture professionals. Along with it, there are also other niche publications: the construction industry journal Latvijas Būvniecība; the interior design magazine Deko, which is oriented towards a wider target audience; and the journal Modernists, no longer published, which focuses on modernist architecture and design.
The platform A4Dplays an important role in the exchange of professional information and opinions. Current information and processes in contemporary architecture are also reflected in the digital publication Arterritory and in Fold, a communication platform for creative industries, funded by the Ministry of Culture.