The field of work and interest of SIA “Arhitektoniskās izpētes grupa” is architecture in a historical context – from pre-project research and development proposals to working drawings, from environmental projects to interior details. Over more than 20 years of successful work, the research group of the office has conducted studies in more than 1000 buildings located throughout the territory of Latvia. The objects of the project group are mostly located in Riga.
There has also been a long and successful cooperation with the municipalities of Jelgava, Cēsis, Rēzekne, as well as restoration projects for many churches and projects for the reconstruction of cultural monuments in private ownership, and more.
Architecture is the art of shaping the environment. In a historical context, architecture is the art of preserving the historical environment that has survived into the present day. It must be acknowledged that time and changes have had a significant adverse impact on it – whether it be wars, numerous reconstructions, human neglect, or fashion trends, each era tends to make its changes as visibly as possible. Therefore, a crucial aspect of restoring the historical environment is understanding it. In-depth research of regional architecture is one of the distinctive features of the office, as well as a hobby for many of its employees. Alongside designing, the staff actively participates in conferences and seminars, contributing to the office’s scientific knowledge base.
“God is in the details”.. This phrase, popularized again in the 1970s in relation to modern architecture by Mies van der Rohe, is fully applicable to historical architecture as well. When shaping historical environments, no detail is insignificant; knowledge of traditional construction methods and stylistic elements from previous periods helps provide an objective assessment of cultural and historical heritage and, if necessary, find appropriate prototypes and analogues.
About architectural research
Architectural research (german: Historisches Bauforschung, also building archaeology russion: историко архитектурное исследование) – Analytical research, in which the observable features in the object through visual inspection, measurements, and probing are compared with the object’s related graphic and historical documentation. By combining the data obtained from historical sources, morphological material, and stratigraphic excavations, an integrated analysis of the object’s tectonic and formal aspects is ensured. The research conducted on the object allows supplementing missing information in archival materials and providing additional insights into lost historical architecture, its location, construction, and renovation processes.
Architectural and artistic research (AAR) is carried out to determine the cultural and artistic value of historical buildings. Subsequently, informed decisions are made about the object’s future development, status, and preservation solutions.
In the process of architectural and artistic research:
- Data on building history is collected;
- Previously unknown information about historical buildings is obtained;
- Publicity is promoted;
- Historical buildings are integrated into the cultural context.
Architectural research as a method of object investigation has developed based on archaeological research foundations in the late 19th century, organized by the German Archaeological Institute in the East. In Latvia, the beginnings of such approaches can be traced back to the 1950s/1960s when historical researchers Augusts Malvess and Aleksandrs Jansons conducted research on the restoration objects. Later, architectural research of the objects was carried out by architects Gunārs Jansons, Jurijs Vasiļjevs, Gunārs Zirnis, Gunārs Erdmanis, and others.
In 1982, architect Pēteris Blūms established an architectural research group, which continues to exist in the form of SIA “Arhitektoniskās izpētes grupa” up to the present day. Research has been conducted on dozens of historical objects, and several comprehensive exhibitions have been organized. Unfortunately, the research methodology itself has not been fully compiled to this day, and its theoretical basis remains formulated only fragmentarily.
Currently in Latvia, research on historical architectural objects is dominated by methods from art sciences. These methods typically involve the compilation of historical materials and a formal stylistic analysis based on historical graphic images and contemporary depictions. Normative acts also promote a formal approach to the preparation of research documentation. However, despite this, the architectural research approach, which involves the comprehensive documentation and analysis of historical buildings, continues to exist and seek its place in Latvian cultural context. Currently, this work is carried out by private research and design firms and individual researchers who, alongside their practical activities, also address methodological and theoretical questions within their means.
It is essential to know that research on an object does not end with probing and its compilation. The exploration of an object continues during the construction process when uncovering the structures, installing utilities, strengthening foundations, creating openings, etc., provide an opportunity to observe previously unknown elements.
Architectural and artistic research is regulated by the Cabinet of Ministers regulations No. 474 “Regulations on the Inventory, Protection, Use, Restoration, and Assignment of Status for Objects Degrading the Environment as Cultural Monuments.”
According to the binding regulations of the Riga City Council, Article 622 of No. 34 “Regulations on the Use and Construction of Riga’s Territory”: “The right to carry out architectural and artistic inventory is granted to certified architects and art scientists who are competent in restoration or research of historical buildings, as well as to a design firm in which at least one specialist with the mentioned competence is employed.”
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