Latvia's parliament building in critical condition

Take note – story published 1 year ago

Preparations for the repair of the Saeima House, Jēkaba Street 11, are ongoing. This year it is planned to develop a reconstruction work project on temporary premises on Smilšu Street, where parliamentarians will work during the reconstruction of the Saeima House, Latvian Radio reported on January 8.

For a few years, some rooms in the building on Jēkaba Street 11 have been banned from entry for safety reasons. The Saeima Legal Office and the Saeima Legal Committee have moved to other premises. The office of the Deputy Chair of the Saeima is also empty and shelves with official gifts from other parliaments have been moved.

Member Armands Krauze of the Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS) said:

“There's a hazard in the big building – some spaces are locked up because something can collapse. Also, there are problems with ventilation and lighting. If you look from a working environment point of view, it's pretty tragic too.”

For the parliament's central building to be fully renovated, the Saeima will have to move to a temporary building on Smilšu Street 1, where the State Revenue Service (VID) was once located. But this building is in poor condition, too. The renewal and wider reconstruction of the former VID building should start next summer, so that in 2026, the next Saeima can move over there. 

Jeļena Gavrilova, member of the State Real Estate Board, said:

“The building is not currently fit for the needs of the Saeima. There is not such a big room that 100 MPs can work. The walls will have to be demolished in some places to expand the room. The additional question is [..] cracks to be sorted. The building has not been used since 2019, and cosmetic work will certainly not be enough there,” Gavrilova said.

On the other hand, the reconstruction of the Saeima building on Jēkaba Street 11 will be one of the most ambitious projects since the restoration of the country's independence. The project will be a major challenge for all those involved and will take five years to complete. The work is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2028.

“The building was capitally repaired 40 years ago, but also then the works did not take place in all the rooms. Following the opinion of Construction State Control Bureau, it is prohibited to stay in several rooms for safety reasons. There is therefore a need for substantial restoration work. The state of the building is really bad, there are significant gaps in load-bearing structures. Not only will the networks of engineering need to be restored, but also certain building structures, as well as the historical and artistic values of the building. Two years for design and three years for construction,” said Gavrilova.

It is estimated that the adaptation of the former VID building to the needs of a temporary parliament could cost around €7 million, while the repair of the Saeima House – around €34 million. However, these costs are likely to rise significantly as the estimates came before Covid-19 time and the cost increases following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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