LATVIA – RIGA CIRCUS
With the completion of the first stage of reconstruction of the historic Riga Circus building, the Riga Circus returns to its premises at 4 Merkel Street. During the first stage of reconstruction, energy efficiency works were carried out, the building was integrated into the urban environment and the historical arena was reconstructed and adapted to modern safety and artistic requirements. Circus and theatre performances and various other events will soon resume in the circus building.
Nauris Puntulis, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia: «With the renovation of Riga Circus, the cultural space of Latvia will receive a new, high-quality and unique facility characterised by respectful attention to historical details, and what was done in the first phase of the project will allow both the audience and the Riga Circus to return to the building. At the same time, it should be noted that what we see and enjoy today is a good and welcome start, as work on the Riga Circus building will continue».
Mara Pavula, member of the management board of the Riga Circus, emphasises the importance of the renewed circus arena on an international scale: «The return of the Riga Circus is a historical milestone in the development of the circus arts, which will allow us to establish Latvia as a centre of this genre not only in the Baltic States, but also on a European scale. The first stage of the construction work has already been completed, while the technical equipment of the arena and the construction of the transforming grandstands will be completed within the next year. The greatest advantage of the reconstruction will be the multifunctional arena which meets modern requirements and was created specifically for the needs of circus art».
Uldis Lukshevics, a representative of the NRJA (No Rules, Just Architecture) architectural bureau, one of the authors of the circus building reconstruction project: «The founder of the circus was Albert Salamonskis in the 19th century. Different, unusual methods of construction were used in erecting the building. Continuing his tradition, together with the builders we have created an extraordinary, unparalleled all-wooden dome structure that can withstand both structural loads and the very serious stresses that will be created by different scenarios of circus performances. Salamonsky’s buildings have stood for 130 years. A lifetime of sunshine for us! The greatest challenge in this project is to complete the fundamental things in the reconstruction of the Circus building at the same time as the thermal insulation project, which already ensures the functionality of the arena and which we will not have to return to again by carrying out the next phases of reconstruction planned in succession».
Valdis Koks, head of the general contractor PS AIDACO GROUP, is satisfied with the successfully completed project: «We have achieved the planned deadline. Many thanks to all parties involved in the project for their constructive cooperation».
The creative director of Riga Circus, Mārtiņš Ķībers, points out that the renovated arena gives an opportunity to bring technically demanding performances to Latvia that otherwise would not be shown. Mārtiņš also notes that the 2023 season should be considered a warm-up season: «Until we have the stands and the arena is fully equipped, there will be productions that can be adapted to the current situation: there are productions that travel with the stands, there are performances designed for audiences that move around in space – the circus is a miracle, and various unconventional solutions».
The works completed
Between May 2021 and 2022, the building contractor PS AIDAKO GROUP carried out energy efficiency work. A new dome structure made of self-supporting CLT panels, load-bearing supports and foundation system was erected over the historical metal structure of the dome towards the outside, a new roof was installed and the exterior drainage system was renewed, and new utility lines were laid.
The facade has been built and insulated and the courtyard rebuilt. The building’s interior combines the industrial laconism of the NRJA architectural firm with the warmth of the historical heritage, and the façade silhouette is closer to the building’s original historic form. As a result of the reconstruction, the circus arena has been made transformable and adaptable to the needs of a modern circus.
The circus building renovation project, designed by NRJA (No Rules Just Architecture), includes other works in the future, including landscaping and construction of a circus school building. In addition, final façade renovation work, including work to restore the historic staircase, is planned for the next rounds.
The total amount of investment of the first stage of circus reconstruction raised by the Ministry of Culture is about EUR 5.5 mln, of which the project No. 18.104.22.168/18/I/062 «Implementation of energy efficiency measures at the building at 4 Merkel Street in Riga» covers part of the costs.
The eligible costs of the EU co-financed project are set at EUR 2,980,880, of which the planned support by the European Regional Development Fund is EUR 2,533,748 or 85% of eligible project costs, while the state budget financing is EUR 447,132 or 15% of eligible project costs.
From mid-December, the Riga Circus resumes various cultural events. In December and January, the Riga Circus and Theatre Company «Quadrifrons» invites to a Christmas tree for the whole family.
In spring 2023, Riga Circus will host its first circus tour on 9-11 March, the world-famous juggler Wes Peden (USA, Sweden and Great Britain) will perform his «Rollercoaster» show in a very modern, punk and pop culture aesthetic. Surrounded by huge inflatable structures and accompanied by electric music, the artist performs incredibly complex and original juggling tricks. The performance is aimed at schoolchildren.
From 30 March to 1 April, the Familiar Faces (Belgium) show «Surface» – paired acrobatics reminiscent of skating without skates on a water-covered surface – will be available in Riga. The show reflects modern man’s relationship with nature.
On 20-22 April, the circus arena will host Cirqvost (France), a provocative spectacle filled with cultural codes and mythological references that will turn the world upside down for a prepared audience.
On the other hand, in May, the circus will host an energetic and innovative performance of the joint Latvian-Norwegian circus artists’ project «Circus for Climate», created as a result of an art activism project of the same name in which young people from all over Latvia have been involved for over a year. The project and the performances of «Circus for Climate», which began in spring 2022, have become important thanks to the grants from the EEAA, as well as the financial support from the Latvian state. Read more about the performances: cirks.lv
The Riga Circus office and performances organised by the Riga Circus will continue to take place in the historic circus building, but while the circus awaits the next stages of construction, classes of the Riga Circus School will continue in the Agenskalns, Zellu Street 25 (in the former premises of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of the University of Latvia).
Data source: km.gov.lv