Occupation Museum staff receive keys to newly refurbished building


On 13 August 2021, the staff of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia were officially given the keys to the refurbished museum building, so now the museum’s experts may continue putting on new exhibitions. The historical building located in Rīga’s Strēlnieku Square 1 has acquired a new, light extension dubbed the House of the Future.

As a result of the reconstruction, the Occupation Museum has acquired almost twice as much space, including new exhibition space, modern offices, specially equipped storage and archive rooms. The reconstruction project was based on the famed late architect Gunārs Birkerts’ concept—to add a light extension to the existing black museum building, finishing it off with a glass wall, creating a metaphor on Latvia’s history—from the dark past to the bright present to enlightened future.

The new complex will also include a new majestic 10-meter-high and 18-meter-wide memorial named The Touch of History commemorating the victims of the Soviet occupation—a symbolic link between the present-day Latvia and the tragic events of 1941, when 15,000 Latvian people were deported to Siberia.

The memorial features audiovisual effects designed by the artist Voldemārs Johansons. The information technology company Tilde provided an AI solution for the victims’ names to be synthesised and played back at the memorial. In front of the House of the Future facing the River Daugava, a small grove of birch trees has been planted—representing a common feature of Latvian landscape.

Overall, the redevelopment of the site saw investments worth €10,434,869 million, which included the reconstruction of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, erection of the memorial for the victims of the Soviet occupation, and an overall improvement of the Riflemen Square. The museum building and the memorial have been assigned a status of a sight of national interest, and the construction was supervised by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development. Skonto Būve carried out construction works following the project designed by the architectural firm 5. iela. The authors of the artistic concept behind the memorial dubbed The Touch of History are Kristaps Ģelzis, Ilze Miķelsone, and Voldemārs Johansons representing the firm Taktila. Their sketch design was chosen as best by an international jury back in 2007.

Riga Technical University’s new student campus buildings completed


On 3 September this year, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, Minister for Education and Science Anita Muižniece, the Riga Technical University (RTU) staff, students, and industry professionals gathered near the Zunda canal in Ķīpsala for the official opening of two new buildings—the RTU’s Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology and a lecture-hall centre Domus Auditorialis.

“September has been a fruitful month for us in terms of completed projects. We are delighted to see that the RTU’s students will now be able to acquire new knowledge in a well-planned, modern space specially designed for studies,” stresses Ilgvars Pauls, the RTU project manager at Skonto Būve.

The new building is a fine gift to the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology on its 60th anniversary, which takes place this year. For the first time in its existence, the faculty has acquired a space specially designed for its needs. The building boasts a modern, well-organised study and research space, well-equipped labs for students and scientists, a research centre, computer halls, spacious and light lecture-rooms. Also, every floor has a comfortable relaxation area where students may meet, network, generate innovative ideas that may hopefully turn into products of high added value.

Domus Auditorialis, a co-working lecture-hall centre, will be able to house lectures, conferences, and other events for a large number of people. The centre has a large lecture hall for about 600 visitors, which may be transformed into two or three smaller halls, each welcoming 100 guests respectively. The high-quality technical equipment ensures that the rooms will have modern sound and lighting solution, as well as simultaneous interpreting facilities.

The RTU has set to make its student campus in Ķīpsala the largest and most cutting-edge centre of engineering in the Baltics. The new faculty building will house all the engineering programmes, the Lab house, a scientific library, a student hotel, and a swimming pool under one roof.

Origo and Origo One built by Skonto Būve receive Latvia’s best sustainable architecture of 2021 award


At the beginning of September this year, the Building Design and Construction Council hosted the 2021 Sustainability in Architecture and Construction award contest, where the shopping and business centres Origo and Origo One were recognised as the most sustainable building complex of 2021 in Latvia. The patrons of the contest included the Ministry of Economics and the State Construction Control Bureau of Latvia (BVKB).

The extended shopping centre Origo and business centre Origo One (located in 2B Satekles Street, Rīga) had already been recognised by the renowned sustainability rater BREEAM during the design stage, which was then “reiterated” this spring by awarding the building the final BREEAM rating of “Excellent”, with the business centre coming close to “Outstanding”. To date, it is the highest sustainability rating given to any shopping centre in the Baltics and any business centre in Latvia.

Skonto Būve competed the reconstruction of the building at the end of 2020, and the company is happy to see that the ambitious goals set by the project developer quite early in the project had been achieved by team effort. A special emphasis was placed on such aspects as energy efficiency, sustainable materials, efficient equipment, well-organised construction process, responsible use of natural recourses, and responsible waste management.

Viktors Borisovskis, a project manager at Skonto Būve, reveals: “Each award brings a sense of reward to the project’s team and boosts motivation to take on further projects of such scale and complexity. We have gained invaluable experience in designing and constructing sustainable property, and we are delighted to see that the project has already been highly rated in several prestigious contests.”

Putting up a sustainable building involves a wealth of factors that the project developer must plan for during the design, construction, and operational phases. The most common factors include the choice of location, flexible design and floor layout solutions, innovative technical solutions, use of durable and modern materials, energy efficiency, responsible handling of waste during and post construction, quality interior space.

Evija Majevska,the commercial director at Linstow Baltic and Origo: “Origo is a user-friendly urban space for anyone, including people with visual or hearing impairments, people with disabilities, young mothers, cyclists, users of public transport, a personal car, or an electric vehicle. We are sure that creation of a nature-, environment-, and user-friendly urban space must be at the heart of every new development. The recognition Origo has received from industry experts and clients attests to our ability to create sustainable, well-integrated, modern urban property. A space that adds value to the neighbourhood and the city itself.”

Origohouses 35.7 thousand m2of retail space, while Origo One accommodates 11.5 thousand m2of Class A office and business space. Origo boasts 159 shops, 17 catering spots, 248 parking spaces, 70 bicycle stands, 5 electric vehicle charging stations. Also, by investing 600 thousand euros, the nearby intersection of Elizabetes Street and Satekles Streets was greatly improved, making it a great deal safer for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

The contest jury: Hadley Barret, a sustainable construction expert with international experience, Rimants Giedraitis, Head of Giedraitis & architektai and a many-time winner of international awards, Igors Golubevs, Head of Schneider Electric, Agrita Lūse, a columnist, Uldis Balodis, an architect, Līga Rutka, an architect and certified BREEAM assessor, Sandris Celmiņš, Head of Construction Control Department at BVKB, Edgars Krasņikovs, a building supervisor and certified BREEAM assessor, Gintars Dardets, a builder of BREEAM-certified buildings.

Shopping centre Origo and business centre Origo One by Skonto Būve receive BREEAM “excellent” rating


The BREEAM “excellent” rating given to the shopping centre Origo and business centre Origo One built by Skonto Būve attests to the sustainability of the building and quality of the completed works. Origo is the only shopping centre in the Baltics holding a BREEM rating of such hights.

BREEAM or British Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method is the world’s leading sustainability assessment methods for masterplanning projects, infrastructure, and buildings.

Jānis Kreicburgs, construction project manager at Skonto Būve responsible for the Origo project: “Our team is pleased with the received assessment. Origo was a large and complex construction project with a lot of factors to consider—the size, finances, location in the centre of Riga, necessity to align the building’s architectural and finishing materials design with the rigid BREEAM efficiency requirements. During the design stage, the key challenges included an accurate record of CO2 emissions, proof of materials transportation according to the certification requirements.    Our goal was to land the BREEM rating “very good”, therefore “excellent” was regarded as a great accomplishment. Also, a great deal of credit should be given to the productive cooperation with the client as both parties had a common vision on how the common goals may be achieved.”

When planning and building Origo, the emphasis was placed on high energy efficiency, water usage, and accessibility solutions, as well as compliance with other sustainability standards.The highest BREEAM assessment was given to the following categories: transport(100%), water (100%), land usage and ecology (90%), waste (86%), and energy(79%). "To construct the new Origo building, we used sustainable building materials and lay emphasis on energy efficiency, responsible use of water, reduced air pollution, use of environmentally-friendly cleaning products, and waste recycling.”

"With the new Origo extension, we wanted to become a role model among the shopping centres in terms of the application of sustainability standards, ensuring accessibility and convenience for employees and shoppers. We have now been open for over a year, yet we haven’t stopped improving accessibility and keep introducing new solutions, letting us describe our centre as safe, environmentally- and shopper-friendly. We are pleased that Origo is the first shopping centre in the Baltics which has received BREEAM “excellent” rating (i.e. 70%),” says Andis Kublačovs, project director at Linstow Baltic, the project developer.

The shopping centre Origo offers a drinking water dispenser, first aid point, accessibility and convenience for people with disabilities and visual impairments, specially designed lifts, signs in Braille or tactile guidance, interactive play wall, parents’ room, family parking, and other facilities.  The Origo building and its surrounding infrastructure is designed to be easily accessible by car, bicycle, public transport, pedestrians, strollers, or people with personal mobility aids. The underground car park has several free-of-charge charging stations for electric cars.

Skonto Būve, Skonto Construction add message to time capsule in New Riga Theatre


On March 31, 2021, in accordance with the traditions of builders, a time capsule was placed in the foundations of the new building of the New Rīga Theatre (JRT) at Lāčplēša Street 25. Messages were added by representatives of the State Real Estate Agency and the SBSC construction company (Skonto Būve and Skonto Construction), as well as by JRT actors Gundars Āboliņš and Vilis Daudziņš, architect Zaiga Gaile, and the government ministers who oversee the sector. This will offer evidence of this day and age to future generations.

What led to this opportunity? On July 9, 2020, Skonto Būve and Skonto Construction began work on the reconstruction of the historical JRT building at Lāčplēša Street 25. Early in 2021, builders came across an historical time capsule in the foundations of the building with messages that dated back to the 19th century.

SIA Skonto Būve construction project director Jānis Kreicburgs: "We have worked very hard and with great purpose to win the bid for tenders on the construction of the New Rīga Theatre building, and now that we are doing the work, we are doing it with a high sense of responsibility. We very much respect the historical elements of the building's interior design and façades, and the client has instructed us to preserve them and integrate them into the new appearance of the building so as to ensure that once the project is finished, the theatre building will be not just modern, but also one with an aura from history."

The JRT project and the relevant technological solutions and quality criteria stand testament to modern achievements in the building industry. The project involves the construction information modelling system, which is a perfect tool to assemble structures precisely. It enables a three-dimensional virtual view of the building while it is being erected, and it also can identify technical information for each constructed element so as to ensure the highest level of quality in the work that is done.

One of the advantages of the new JRT building is that the interior will be larger and more comfortable, with particular thought given to visitors to the theatre. The old building had room for up to 400 audience members, but after the reconstruction, the number will more than double to 840 seats for theatre lovers. We are continuing to pursue our goal of a new, modern and popular building in the very heart of Rīga.

Work is currently being done on the 1st-floor ceiling of the façade section of the building. Active work is ongoing underground, where modern workshops have been installed in the façade and the yard zone. The much larger elements of the building will be visible by the end of this summer, when work is scheduled to end on the main structures of the yard zone. By the end of the year, work will begin on the building's roof. During the Covid-19 pandemic, there may be challenges related to the delivery of building materials, the availability of workers, longer harmonisation periods with the relevant supervisory institutions, etc. Participants in the process are working hard to ensure that the work is on schedule and that the object will be completed at a sufficient level of quality and so that the theatre could return to the Lāčplēša Street building by the autumn of 2022.

The JRT building has special added value, and all of our employees are very proud of the work that is being done. The work involves the best specialists -- those whose work is very much appreciated by experts in the sector. The team includes construction project director Jānis Kreicburgs, his deputy, Viktors Borisovskis, the man who is responsible for the building work, Sergejs Šnepsts, the construction director for the carcass of the building, Jānis Štorhs, the construction director for general work, Igors Grigorjevs, the construction director for the façade of the building, Andris Lauss, the construction director for electricity and low current, Dmitrijs Mokrovs, the construction director for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, water delivery and sewage, Pāvels Zarubins, the construction director for access roads and improvements, Maksims Kots, the design co-ordinator, Mareks Petrovskis, the job safety specialist, Māra Kukoja, the senior budget specialist, Hermanis Eisaks, the assistant to the project director, Marina Mackina, the technical secretary, Tatjana Borisjuka, the document auditor, Ance Niezere, and the lawyer, Ilze Bērziņa.