On August 23, 1989 millions gathered on the streets across national borders to stand courageously beside one-another to affirm their right to civil nonviolent protest. A seemingly ordinary gesture—side-by-side, hands held—became elevated to symbolize the peaceful, unconquerable strength of the multitude. This desire was unique to the peoples of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania but is a message common to us all today.
We hope the Baltic Memorial may represent the collective bond each of us shares. That sitting on the edge of one of the capital city’s busiest streets, the project may stimulate attention and recognition for one of Europe’s pivotal cultural events. For us, the project is symbol, memory and place for a generation of new ideas.
We have used the challenge of the elongated site as a way of distributing three distinct forms, suggestive of three unique cultures. Each separate, but inextricably linked. These three load-bearing forms shelter between them a panelized glass dome, which houses at its center a public amphitheater and reflection pool. The three forms are independent on the ground level and house each of the project’s three main programs—exhibition space (40sqm), souvenir shop (20sqm) and cafe (30sqm). Each rises above the ground program and gradually come together at a height of 65 meters. Within, on the southwest side of the sunken amphitheater a gentle waterfall cascades into the reflection pool. Looking across the pool and waterfall, there is a strong visual connection to the Daugava River. All program is easily accessible through the open plan. A long display wall to the rear of the space is meant to act as compliment to the more in-depth stories within the exhibition space.
Part of our formal inspiration is the many recognizable spires of the city; with St. Peter’s and Riga Cathedral on either side of the site. The great height of the memorial and its tapered shape we hope will complement the existing skyline and be seen from every direction.
The Baltic Memorial should embody the powerful spirit that unites a people. Though we may be separated by perceived national, political, or religious boundaries we are united by more than sometimes we are aware.