Arhitektūra nav tikai dekorācija — “Ola Foundation” betona un stikla ēka Ķīpsalā, žurnāls DEKO

Architecture is not just decoration - "Ola Foundation" concrete and glass building in Ķīpsala, DEKO magazine

Rules of egg hatching - Liepājas Avīze Reading Architecture is not just decoration - "Ola Foundation" concrete and glass building in Ķīpsala, DEKO magazine 6 minutes Next Under the double bottom is the soulful one - Rīgas Laiks conversation with Uldis Pīlēns

Ola Foundation in the complex of buildings in Ķīpsala, technology meets history, design meets nature, and people meet an environment thought out to the smallest detail.

With respect for the scale of Īpsala's construction and nature, in the very middle of it, between hundred-year-old lindens and thick oaks, it is planted in a recess Ola – a three-story concrete and glass building, the quintessence of the ideas of the architect Uldis Piīēns. Each element here has both a functional and a symbolic meaning. The building is surrounded by six-meter free-standing milk glass plates. On the one hand, they overshadow the interior spaces, on the other hand, the architect compares them with the mystical stone piles of Stonehenge in modern material and with shells that peel off: «If you break an egg from the outside, it is the end of an unborn life, but if you break an egg from the inside with outside help, it's like a new beginning. This is what we are trying to say both with the external form and with the content.» Ola is the home of Uldis and Ilze Pīlēns' cherished fund Ola Foundation, which invites you to learn about yourself and the world through art, music, discussions and other events. The Institute of Integral Education, co-founded by both, has also moved to the new premises.

On the first floor of the building, a 300-square-meter exhibition hall is located below the groundwater level, which is opened by the exposition The changeless constant – Golden selection of Pīleni Latvian art collection. The paintings of the classics of modern art are especially framed, zoomed in and highlighted by the lighting, which changes the spectrum from white to yellow according to the work of art, and which is given special attention here. As in the whole building, the movement in the art room also takes place in a circle, but the works of Ilmars Blumbergs from the "heart and core" collection are placed in its center.

Starting from an automatic ventilation system that follows air quality measurements, to opening doors, adjusting blinds, heating and sounding the building, modern technologies are present, but visually almost invisible in the project. "Architecture is not just decoration. We do not have to live in the architecture and thinking created by the 19th, but by the 21st century, which has a high technological, technical and IT component. This is my manifesto and call, because the task of an architect is to document the time and the opportunities of the time in which he lives," says Pīlēn, who threw not one challenge to local builders and engineers. These include the massive single-cast concrete walls, the stainless steel columns in a non-standard polishing quality, and the curved glass sliding doors to the circular meditation room. However, the most expressive example is the green roof, which can rise to a meter high when the sky is open to the gaze, but closes itself in bad weather.

The surrounding landscape also creates a mood and "scenography" in the salon concert hall, the greatest treasure of which is historical buildings restored in Latvia. Steinway the piano. Just like the luxurious vintage Murano crystal chandeliers of the 60s seen in Venice, which sparkle in the windows in the evenings, the elegant musical instrument was also made around 1956 - the year of Uldis Pīlēns' birth. The owners call it a nice coincidence, but also a way for other furniture and design items to Voice was equally personal and natural, but the result demonstrates the taste of both, what was seen, felt and experienced during the travels. If the main structures of the project were up to Uldis, Ilze Pīlēna strives to give the building coziness and atmosphere. "You can buy a table, a chair and put it in the interior, but not the soul. It can only be created with nuances," she smiles.

Both wanted to Ola is "friendly, accessible", so people with special needs are also considered. For example, a seminar room, where events are vibrated by a deep gong sound, adapted for the hearing impaired.

Attention has also been paid to the accessibility of the environment Ola Foundation in the second building of the complex on the west side of the garden. It is a small ten-room hotel with vertical glazing and raw larch finish, which will acquire a gray tone over time, but solar panels are placed on the roof of the building for even more self-sufficient functioning of the complex.

From the outside, the austere building fits into the wooden architecture of Ķīpsala and at the same time creates a reference to the sheds from Pīlens' childhood in Liepāja, but inside it surprises with the almost illusory effects achieved by different materials and eclectic harmonious splendor. The interior is a joint work of the Pīleni couple, in which, like In the egg, dominated by Venice and Marrakech effects. On filigree camel bone consoles, researched design editions and vases are placed, on the walls - the architect's own paintings, scenography sketches created in his youth and black and white photographs of Karlīna Vītoliņa. "Here is a mix between the historical and the modern, different styles and cultures," comments Pīlēns.

The architect's creative and technological visions have materialized in every detail of the project, even in specially made elevators, in which the materials used give the walls a swirling effect and reduce the "feeling of a cramped cabin". "Everything here, down to the last screw, is Uldis' design. This building complex has been like a creative laboratory for two years," adds Ilze. It is planned that the guests of the foundation who will stay here will have free access to both buildings to read a book, sip coffee, meditate or enjoy art in their own room. This principle is borrowed from a museum accommodation on the island of Naoshima in Japan.

Although there are many foreign influences, and Uldis Pīlēns emphasizes - "we must be open to the world", Ola Foundation the complex also makes maximum use of what was created in Latvia - from local building materials to Night furniture for beds and Studio Natural for textiles. The key word is quality.

Text — Veronika Viļuma, DEKO Magazine
Photo — Madara Gritāne