In Riga, local architecture practice Substance created a small statement building that playfully expresses its function
Words by Francesca Perry
Latvian architecture practice Substance has completed the Dzirciema Pharmacy, a new project in western Riga. The 170 sq m, two-storey freestanding building sits in a green square next to a crossroads, opposite the University of Latvia Botanical Garden. With a facade that articulates its function, Substance refers to the building as ‘conceptually assertive’.
The hexadecagonal structure is clad in glass and dark composite metal sheeting, over which lies an external aluminium frame defined by a repeated cross-shaped module symbolising the traditional pharmacy sign. These cross shapes – sometimes filled with perforated metal panelling, sometimes empty – project in rhythms contrasting with the building envelope to create a dynamic jagged facade.
At night, some of the facade crosses are illuminated bright green using LEDs, turning the building into a beacon that makes its functionality visible in a playful and celebratory way. Substance sees the project as a hybrid between a building and an installation activating public space.
As part of the project, the practice designed new pedestrian paths leading to the building from the road, as well as a circular raised flower bed outside the pharmacy entrance.
The pharmacy is set over two floors, with the main public shop below and staff meeting spaces above. The project has been nominated for the EU Mies van der Rohe Award 2022.
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