NRJA rebuilds riga's circus red dome with intertwined wooden panels

NRJA rebuilds riga's circus red dome with intertwined wooden panels

Riga Circus reconstruction by NRJA

 

Design firm NRJA (No Rules Just Architecture) takes over the reconstruction project of Rīgas Cirks, the landmark circus in Riga, Latvia. Originally built in 1888 by architect Johann Friedrich Baumann, the Rīgas Cirks building is the only permanent circus building in the Baltic states and one of the oldest in Europe, considered an architectural monument of national significance. The structure assembles a brick frame with an arena, specifically dedicated to circus numbers with horses, covered by an unheated dome twenty-four meters in diameter. The historic dome formation consists of sixteen columns constructed from railway tracks. With only one restorative attempt during the 135 years of the circus’ running, held in 1953, the poor technical state of the building has led to repeatedly suspended activities. 

 

Following the design principle of ‘adding by removing’, the creative studio undergoes a radical conservation peeling off the layers ready to be detached due to decay, revealing veiled historical architectural details, and not concealing any presumably unaesthetic elements behind the cladding. The hidden dimension of time is exposed through conscientious repair. The accumulated historical cultural layers are the main source of the sensory experience in the rebuilt circus building. Along with several reconstructive techniques and energy efficiency improvement measures, the restoration sets up a uniquely implemented CLT wooden panel dome preserving the original framework.

NRJA rebuilds riga's circus red dome with intertwined wooden panels
all images by Vladimirs Svetlovs, Aleksandrs Kendenkovs, Uldis Lukševics, Reinis Liepiņš

 

 

panel dome system preserves the historical architecture

 

To reflect the substantive changes and prevent the critical technical condition of the building, the architectural concept for the restoration of the historic building by design group NRJA in collaboration with the architect Ilze Mekša follows a vision of the conversion of the circus into a multifunctional cultural site. The project’s main aim attends to the insulation of the building and the energy efficiency improvement preserving the historical architecture of Rīgas Cirks and carrying out fundamental foundational works to ensure the functioning of the arena.

 

Analysis of the historic building reveals baseless walls, uninsulated roofs, and other unusual building techniques, such as temporary construction of repurposed timber used to support the 130 year–old arena. The restorative plan implements a CLT panel dome bearing the structure and the workloads required from various performative acts. As the original metal structure has lost its bearing capacity, a parallel construction of a new column network and wooden panel system keeps the historic frame unloaded and exposed. The interconnected panels apply individually designed elements to form a spherical, self–supporting shape. The smooth, solid internal plane improves energy efficiency. The vault is topped off by a steel ring structure and the restored original lantern.

NRJA rebuilds riga's circus red dome with intertwined wooden panels
the construction of a new column network and wooden panel system keeps the historic frame unloaded

 

 

The structure has been completely reconstructed and gained remotely operated blinds and windows. The various historical layers have been preserved and exhibited in the interior, and authentic materials have been repurposed as much as possible. The logs from the arena stands are sawn into boards and used in the finishing of the arena’s walls. To preserve the brick facade, the perimeter walls are insulated on the inside and finished using repurposed cladding.

NRJA rebuilds riga's circus red dome with intertwined wooden panels
the logs from the arena stands are sawn into boards and used in the finishing of the arena’s walls

riga-circus-reconstruction-designboom-1800-3

riga-circus-reconstruction-designboom-1800-2

NRJA rebuilds riga's circus red dome with intertwined wooden panels
the landmark circus building is covered by an unheated dome twenty-four meters in diameter

NRJA rebuilds riga's circus red dome with intertwined wooden panels
the restoration plan ensures foundational and insulation improvement preserving the historical architecture

NRJA rebuilds riga's circus red dome with intertwined wooden panels
the various historical layers have been preserved and exhibited in the interior

NRJA rebuilds riga's circus red dome with intertwined wooden panels
NRJA rebuilds riga's circus red dome with intertwined wooden panels

 

 

project info:

 

name: Riga Circus reconstruction
designer: NRJA – No Rules Just Architecture | @nrja.lv

location: Riga, Latvia

photography: Vladimirs Svetlovs, Aleksandrs Kendenkovs, Uldis Lukševics, Reinis Liepiņš

 

 

designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: christina vergopoulou | designboom

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