Open-air stage to become a national monument

The project of the Mežaparks open-air stage, to be rebuilt in 2020, has been given the first green light by the Rīga Construction Board. For construction to go smoothly, the stage could be pronounced an object of national interest, officials told the press at the Rīga City Council on Monday.

Riga City Council real estate department director Oļegs Burovs said that the draft project was greenlighted by the Rīga Construction Board on August 25.

The tender for the first stage of reconstructing the open-air venue is expected to be announced on January 10, 2017, said Burovs, with work on the first stage of the rebuild to conclude by June 7, 2018, in time for the next Song and Dance festival. 

Preventing construction delays

To prevent construction companies from slowing down the rebuild by protesting procurement outcomes, the stage could become a National Interest Object. 

"There are solutions - [granting] the Status of National Interest...just like it is for the Daugava Stadium," said Culture Minister Dace Melbārde.

According to Rīga Vice Mayor Andris Ameriks, the decision over the matter should come speedily. 

"In the end of the year the stage should have the status of a strategic object by a Cabinet decree, so that we could announce the tender without any risks," said Ameriks.

The rebuild

The overhaul of the stage will introduce larger viewer platforms, increase the number of seats and ensure better flow of visitors and performers across the venue. The acoustics are to be improved as well. 

The second stage of the project, to be carried out from 2018 to 2020 before the next Youth Song and Dance Festival, will be expanding the dome-shaped roof and rebuilding the platforms.

"The project concept is based in that the Song Festival open-air stage is a sanctuary for the Latvian people," said architect Austris Mailītis, who is co-authoring the project with Juris Poga.

"What is this sanctuary? It could be nature, so the concept of the Song Festival open-air stage is similar to nature.

The platform of the stage is like a mountain to climb, while the roof is like a silver grove," said the architect, referring to notable symbols of Latvian culture.

According to Juris Poga, during the first stage of the rebuild the number of seats will be increased to 30,674 and about 11 to 12 thousand choir singers will be able to fit on the stage. Food facilities and toilets will be located in a shadowy retreat below the stage.

The project costs around €45m, which Rīga will borrow as an interest-free loan from the State Treasury.

The Mežaparks stage is one of the main open-air venues in Latvia, with major concerts and nationally significant events like the Song and Dance Festival luring tens of thousands of participants and viewers to the green Mežaparks neighborhood. 

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