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Zaigas Gailes Birojs – Žanis Lipke Memorial, 2012

© Ansis Starks


Zaigas Gailes Birojs – www.zgb.lv

Žanis Lipke Memorial is a private museum that commemorates the courage and humanity of a Latvian working class family who during the Nazi regime (1941–1944) risked their lives and saved more than 50 Jews. Several hiding places were arranged by Žanis Lipke and one of them was a bunker built under the woodshed next to his family house in Ķīpsala, Riga.

The ascetic windowless building of dark grey wood resembles an overturned boat resting ashore – like a ferryman’s boat, that has completed its mission. It could also be Noah’s Ark that after the flood has descended back on dry land with the survivors, the new humanity that God has decided not to annihilate. Finally, the building also resembles a black shed, a building that used to be common on Ķīpsala, once inhabited by fishermen: tarred, made of barge boards with their inimitable scent.

The dimmed passage through the enclosed entrance tunnel bears no suggestion of the real scale and structure of the building and it takes a while for the visitor to locate its centre. The monolith building has three levels joined together by an open shaft in the centre allowing a glimpse of the basement from the attic. The basement level contains a concrete bunker in the original dimensions with nine bunks dropping down from the wall.



Architects: Zaigas Gailes Birojs  Zaiga Gaile, Ingmars Atavs, Agnese Sirmā, Ineta Solzemniece – Saleniece, Zane Dzintara, Maija Putniņa – Gaile, Dāvis Gasuls

Location: Mazais Balasta dambis 8, Ķīpsala, Rīga, Latvia

Surface: Tarred wooden planks

Year: 2012/built

Structure: Wooden frame construction, plank board walls inside and out, concrete basement

Materials: Wood, concrete

Project team: Māris Gailis, Augusts Sukuts, Viktors Jansons (Concept authors), Kristaps Ģelzis (Artist), Reinis Suhanovs, Jēkabs Nīmanis (Sound), Māris Gailis (Project Manager)

Client/Contractor: Association Žanis Lipke Memorial

Photography: Ansis Starks


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