The Culture of the Spectacle, Annoying or attracting?


Cesis is a town in Latvia located in the northern part of the Central Vidzeme Upland. The population of the town is 18 thousand people. Tourism is one of the priority directions of the city development. Medieval churches and castles are the main city sights, but, despite their high historical value, these objects, unfortunately, are not able to attract large flows of tourists from other cities. Cēsis needs a new bright object, which will become the epicenter of cultural life, will strengthen the city’s economy and form an attractive urban image.


In 1991, when Frank Gehry decided to take part in an international competition for the concept of the Guggenheim Museum building in the Spanish city of Bilbao, the customers gave him Sydney opera as an example. The customers needed a building that could do the same for Bilbao as the Sydney opera did for Australia. Gehry provided the desired result. Since the opening day, the museum has attracted more than 4 million visitors to the city and brought Bilbao millions of dollars as a result of increased economic activity and tax revenues. He turned Bilbao from the decrepit industrial port city into one of the most popular tourist centers. Of course, other construction projects have played a role here – improving the metro system, a new airport, a shopping complex, but the main merit belongs, of course, to the Guggenheim Museum.


The competition site is in close proximity to major tourist attractions and the railway station, which provides excellent accessibility. Based on the task (achieving the “Wow” Effect), it was decided to demolish all buildings, except for the projected one. What unites people? Music. The concept offers a redevelopment model of the former factory in the music center. Currently there is an active development of the festival culture, so that such a center in Cēsis could attract tourists from all over the world. Various musical platforms and one multifunctional concert hall are united under one roof. All music genres: from classics to hip-hop in one place. In addition to conducting music festivals, the site can perform for the city the function of a cultural and educational center.


Who influences you graphically?

As it’s a thesis, I was trying to make my graphic more innovative and expressive than before. I also wish my graphic language were easy to read and simple.

In the first year of my education at Moscow Architectural Institute I was inspired by the graphic of the Soviet avant-garde architects. But then my good friend, an Italian architect Fabrizio Furiassi, with whom I was lucky to work in Moscow introduced me to progressive European bureaus such as 2a + p/a, Fala Atelier, Eva le Roi, Gosplan. So I fell in love with the style of their project presentations. I was hugely impressed and their work style still inspires me.

What has defined various languages of representation through which you articulate the proposal-from the views to the small colored axis and so on?

Initially the present stage of a concept process is an urban-planning analysis of the situation. From my viewpoint such analysis should contain simple graphic schemes, so that a person who has nothing to do with architecture can understand this graphic language. Then goes a concept vision: it can be axonometric or planar schemes. Also I can compare these schemes with “Lego”. This schemes can explain the idea of a project step by step. From my perspective, there are 3 main projections: plan, facade and section. I make it in detailed graphic. Finally the last (and the most pleasant part of work) is creating images that add the “mood” to the proposal.

What is the effect and the purpose of formatting of the views as single and or multiple images on a page?

I suppose that a layout should be like a consistent story. It can be focused on 3 stages: the first stage is the situation analysis, the second stage includes plans, facades and sections, the third stage carries images of exterior and interior space.

How important were the plans and axonometric?

The plan is obviously an important projection, because presents the main information of the proposal, but despite this fact it couldn’t be a major projection.

What is your take not the contemporary architecture of the spectacular?

I was born in Russia and right now I’m living here, so I’m trying to be inspired by local architecture. In Moscow there are a lot of beautiful avant-garde buildings which in my opinion are underestimated by society. The main thing is that avant-garde architecture has sculpture forms, but despite this the buildings have clear functional content. Lately I have been contemplating about post-modern architecture: what architecture is a symbol of the modern world? How does this architecture interact with architecture of strict functionalism? Is it possible to find a middle ground? I can’t give definitive answers to this questions, but I realize that it inspires me in my practice.

You talk about a bright object – please could you expand further?

This proposal is quite utopian. The main objective of the town with population of approximately 15 thousand people is to attract tourists. Initially I should make a proposal of reconstruction and restoration of abandoned Soviet factory. So I’ve chosen another path: I demolished all abandoned buildings, because it doesn’t carry any architectural value. Instead of the factory I’ve proposed to erect a concert hall. This “kitschy’ building can annoy or attract, but in my opinion such bright building can become an “icon” of a small town.