New company takes over construction of chic Rīga theater

On July 9 the SBSC group, which consists of Skonto Būve and Skonto Construction, took over construction of the high-brow New Riga Theater after the contract with the previous company was terminated as fractures appeared in the neighboring houses during construction.

It is now planned the theater could return to its historical premises by fall 2022, with the reconstruction about doubling previously available space.

Skonto būve board member Juris Pētersons said that the construction company is confident it will be able to carry out the project without damaging the houses in the vicinity. "We'll be working with Poland's Keller Polska. We've been working with them for more than seven years now. At some point we built a railroad in complete swampland, in Bolderāja. The company will specialize in building the foundations," said Pētersons.

"We'll be using technologies that can control vibrations, which are really damaging to the old houses which were erected unsteady and on shallow foundations," he said.

The price of the project has, however, increased to €29.9m, or €9m more than previously. Valsts Nekustamie Īpašumi (VNI), the state real estate management company which owns the theater, says the new project will follow safety precautions and the original design by architect Zaiga Gaile.

The New Riga Theater building is a landmark which formerly housed the Dailes Theater under legendary director Eduards Smiļģis, whose photo on the wall of the building is a recognizable sight in Rīga.

The New Riga Theater (JRT) is well known as a hotbed of high-quality and cutting-edge drama. It has gained an international reputation under the leadership of artistic director Alvis Hermanis.

The reconstruction project will almost double the theater space and also refit the yard. The new building is to have 825 audience seats, as opposed to the previous 400, and three separate performance stages.

For the next couple of years, JRT has relocated to new premises, known as the Tobacco Factory, on Miera iela in Rīga. The temporary premises are not without problems.

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