Towards Liberty of Thought
Keywords:Žanis Lipke, learning centre, freedom of speech, architecture, belonging, permanence, spatial mutations
Can newly built structures embody and endure the uniqueness of past nobility? This idea of permanence, and therefore of time, inevitably confronts us as we introduce ourselves to the manifesto of an architectural competition for a future learning centre, the House of Courage. The manifesto envisions the centre’s planned programme and its mission to strengthen our youth’s ability to resist automatic stereotypes and to promote the persistence of humane ideals in times of hardship. The genesis for this noble idea in a specific location on Mazais Balasta dambis can be traced back to a historic act of courage that contains an emotional dimension still present within the fragile urban context of Ķīpsala island, Riga. This extraordinary act of unselfishness is an event that deserves an empathetic and architectural continuation of its nobility, yet the amplitude with which the knowledge is intended to be passed on contradicts the intimacy of the place. Our decision to take part and tackle the apparent duality of the competition task forms an irreducible opposition that guides us in our eventual work, where we seek spatial genuineness and tireless approximation. A new space for education must be able to strengthen the character of the place and avoid certain peculiarities of public typologies that risk surrendering the authentic nature of the nearby setting. To respond to ideological unpredictability, we seek to study the principles discussed in object-oriented ontology (OOO) that permit the act of architectural decentralization to dismantle any form of spatial and moral hierarchy between human and nonhuman objects. In the pursuit of liberty of thought, it is the aura of the place that becomes the basis for the revelation of courage hidden within each of us. The following body of text reflects on our thoughts about belonging to a place and time and serves as a guide to our work methodology, which ultimately resulted in a proposal for the House of Courage.