Arhitect Andris Kronbergs (1951)
Andris Kronbergs is one of the most highly regarded and talented architects in contemporary Latvian architecture. Not only does he conceive of conceptually rigorous works, he is able to successfully realize these projects using the technology of today to create timeless pieces of extraordinary simplicity. He has collected more Latvian Architect Union Grand Prix prizes than any of his colleagues, and in 2003 he was nominated for the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.
Kronbergs’ portfolio contains a wide range of objects from urban and city planning, to high-rises, offices and public buildings, private homes, cultural institutions and monuments. Studying his buildings, we find an approach that is fundamentally concerned with site and environment, bringing added value to the locations. His modernist instinct is tempered with a sensitivity to the unique character of each project, thereby avoiding the pitfalls of oppressive uniformity. Every project is unique. The buildings are robust and sometimes even monumental, yet sophisticated and minute in their attention to detail. Each project is a search for meaning and a will to truly characterize a place and a nation, constructing Latvian identity for this day and age. The work penetrates superficial concerns, revealing layers of history and culture which serve as the building blocks of a future yet to come.
After studying architecture at the Riga Polytechnic Institute, Kronbergs started working with the lauded architect Modris Ģelzis (1929−2009). In the 1980’s Kronbergs started the firm “ARHIS” together with several colleagues. It is now one of the largest and most prominent in the country. At the turn of the millennium, he spearheaded the architectural projects that would represent Latvia as a nation – the reconstruction and ongoing expansion of Riga International Airport, and the Latvian National Treasury on Bezdelīgu Street in Rīga (projected by Kronbergs, Kārkliņš and Partners, 1996−2001). Together with his team at “ARHIS”, Kronbergs has also created several urban planning proposals, including for Ķīpsala and Lucavsala in Rīga, as well as many commercial projects, such as “Riga Plaza” (2004−2007) and grocery store “TOP” in Salacgrīva (2013). In 2016, construction started on the multi-functional building which is part of the memorial park “The Garden of Destiny“ (Likteņdārzs) in Koknese, honoring the 600 000 Latvians who died and suffered under the 20th century totalitarian regimes. Another example of Kronbergs iconic semi-interred silhouette, is the printing house “Britania” (completed in 2007), which appears as a continuation of the ground on which it is built.
Kronbergs has also designed many reconstructions, such as the residential buildings on Miesnieku Street in Rīga (2014−2017). His thoughts on reconstruction might be expressed as evolution of form, or, borrowing a phrase from the philosopher Hegel – “another oneself”. He considers it absolutely necessary in these specific projects to clearly delineate what is worth keeping, what should be discarded, and what needs to be added. The private residences especially illustrate his attention to location, form and material. Kronbergs was the initiator of the so called Shed Architecture style in Latvia which used the basic form of the farmstead. A brilliant example of this style was the reconstruction of his parents’ home in Melluži, Jūrmala (2007).
Andris Kronbergs has served in many advisory capacities for entities such as the Council for Preservation and Development of Rīga Historical Centre, the Latvian National Architecture Council, and the board of the Latvian Architect Union and Rīga City Architect’s Collegium. Since 1985 he has supervised diploma projects and reviewed works on the National Evaluation Committee at Riga Technical University and Riga Building College. In 2015 he became an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences, and is currently on the faculty at RISEBA University in Rīga. In 2009 he was awarded the Order of the Three Stars for commendable service to Latvia.
Andris Kronbergs is an extraordinary architect and continues to be an inspiration to many young people entering the field. His work establishes conceptual realization as the norm for architecture in Latvia, creating both public and private spaces that are testaments to a living Latvian culture.
Lejnieks, Jānis. (2010). Krampis. Arhitekts Andris Kronbergs. Rīga: Neputns.
Kronbergs, Andris. (2010). Designing in historic environment. No: Cultural heritage – contemporary challenge (79.-84. lpp.). [Rīga]: VKPAI.
Kronbergs, Andris, Kleinbergs, Arnis, Saulīte, Zanda (sast.). (2008). ARHIS arhitektūra = Architecture by ARHIS. Rīga: ARHIS projektu birojs.
Rīgas arhitektūra: stili, ēkas, interjeri XXI gadsimtā. (2000). Rīga: Jumava.