From obsolete military infrastructure to public space

The evolving identity of Latvia’s Riga Central Market

Authored by: Mia M. Bennett

Routledge Companion to Global Heritage Conservation

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138962989
eBook ISBN: 9781315659060
Adobe ISBN:


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Obsolete military infrastructure is often destroyed or left to decay. Yet in Latvia’s capital following World War I, the Riga City Council incorporated the roofs of two blimp hangars from the defeated Imperial German Navy’s Vaiņode Air Base into the structure of the Riga Central Market, thereby fostering Latvian civic identity within a new public space. In this chapter, Riga Central Market is considered to be an elastic space, enabling investigation into how local, regional, and global processes have altered its material and symbolic nature. The market is examined across the interwar period when it first opened, the post-war Soviet period, and the post-Soviet period. Attention is paid to struggles over Riga Central Market’s identity and the increasing scale of forces challenging its relevance as a locally meaningful public space including market liberalization, globalization, and UNESCO World Heritage Designation. The place-making project of Riga Central Market holds lessons for adapting military infrastructure in ways that enhance rather than degrade public space.

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