The First Healthcare Building in Latvia in the Style of Functionalism

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Aleksandrs Klinklāvs (1899—1982) was the most successful architect of
the interwar Latvia. He graduated the 2nd non-classical secondary school of
Saint-Petersburg. He was very impressed by the ballet of the Mariinsky theatre in
Saint-Petersburg, and took dance classes at a private ballet school in addition to
studies in his secondary school.
After Latvia gained independence, Alexandrs Klinklāvs returned to Riga
in 1920, where he served two Gods at once. He became a ballet dancer at the
Latvian National Opera and a student of the Faculty of Architecture of the
University of Latvia. Learning from the leading European architects, he embraced
functionalism deep in his soul and became one of the main proponents of this
style in Latvia’s interwar architecture.
Having graduated from the university in 1930, he become supervisor of the
engineering department of the Latvian Red Cross. Before the war, he supervised
the construction of a great number of healthcare facilities in Latvia. Klinklāvs
became the author of over 40 projects, including many buildings designed for
healthcare purposes, which earned him a reputation of “an architect of healthcare
The Hoffmann-La Roche (Roche) office building in Riga, Miera street 25
belongs to the early period of Klinklāvs’s creative work. Roche selected the architect
based on the style he was preaching, his rigorous commitment to functionalism
and rationalism of Bauhaus architecture. This coincided with the new trends
in Roche’s architectural identity. Stylistically, the Riga building will closely echo
Salvisberg’s design of the Roche headquarter office building in Basel (Switzerland).
The building design was approved on May 2, 1931. Klinklāvs was commissioned
to design the office, laboratory and warehouse to be located in the same
building. The building construction commenced on 29 May 1931 and completed
on 1 August 1932. Total cost for construction was 300,000 lats.
The exterior of the building was decorated with 335 sq. m of ceramic tiles
manufactured by the German-based Siegersdorf company. The Roche building
was the first functionalist style healthcare building in Latvia. It established the
most advanced technologies of the time.
In September 1940, the building was nationalized by the Soviet authorities
and until 1991 it was the Sanitary & Epidemiological Station of the Soviet Military
in Baltic’s. After restoration of independence of Latvia in 1991, the building
was used by Latvian State institution — Road Traffic Safety Directorate. Roche
was able to return it property in 2015. Reconstruction process, including lifting
parts of the bulding for 57 cm was done during 2018—2020. Inauguration of the
restored Roche building in Riga will take place in August 26, 2020 and will part
of the ISHM 47-th Congress in Riga.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Event47th Congress of the International Society for the History of Medicine - RSU Anatomy Museum, Riga, Latvia
Duration: 23 Aug 202127 Aug 2021
Conference number: 47


Congress47th Congress of the International Society for the History of Medicine
Abbreviated titleISHM
Internet address


  • medicine
  • architecture
  • Klinklavs

Field of Science*

  • 3.1 Basic medicine
  • 3.5 Other medical sciences

Publication Type*

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)


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