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Soviet-era relic — VEF Culture Palace is going to be reopened

29.08.2017

The building erected in 1950s has been renovated and it possesses an undeniable charm.

Driving along Brīvības Street towards Jugla, on the left side of the street there is an impressive building with massive columns. The majestic building of VEF Culture Palace which could have only originated under the impact of the Stalin era.

This is the historic truth. The industrial giant of Soviet-time Latvia — Culture Palace of Valsts Elektrotehniskā fabrika (VEF, State Electrical Engineering Factory) — was constructed in the period from 1951 to 1960 during which the presence of this notorious tyrant was very evident.

The design and technical plans of the building were planned with great ambitions, yet unfortunately the construction process was realised in the worst traditions of that time. Back in spring 2016, when VEF Culture Palace was closed for renovation, builders could not have imagined what would expect them. As the renovation process went on, they feared whether low quality materials used while constructing the building would collapse like a house of cards.

However, November of 2017 is approaching with a wonderful news — completion of the planned and additional construction works. VEF Culture Palace, which is a cultural monument of national importance and which has received the status of a monument of arts of national importance due to its interior plan and interior of several premises, will be reopened already in November.

Massive granite steps are leading towards entrance, the entrance-hall with stairs is spacious and grand. Clearly one may sense the aesthetics and architectonic artistic quality which is so characteristic to the Soviet time and which possesses its own charm.

At the same time, along with the physical restoration, the substance of the building has changed too. VEF Culture Palace regains the title of the largest culture centre in Latvia.

As before, part of the building will be used by various artistic hobby groups and studios, whereas part of the building will be available to organise various events — concerts, conferences and seminars, corporate events, a.o.

The grand hall with a convenient balcony has more than 800 seats (almost 20 spots for people in wheelchairs), meanwhile the chamber hall offers convenient seats for 200-250 guests. Several smaller premises and a two-storey entrance-hall may be also of convenient use.

The design is so successful that several events may take place at the same time, without disturbing each other. The functionality of the premises has been improved, also modernising the acoustics and equipment.

Also VEF History Museum will gain benefit from the complete renovation of the building. This museum is devoted to the well-known electrical engineering factory established in 1919 during the period of the State of Latvia.

The collection of the museum holds more than 6000 objects, documents, photos and also other cultural and historical records, depicting the development of VEF from a small workshop with a couple of workers to an enormous company with many branches.

First Latvia-manufactured telephone devices in wooden holders are particularly interesting objects — a product range of 1930s, precisely characterised by a proverb that VEF manufactured all kinds of products from a needle to aircraft. There are also the legendary camera VEF-Minox, radio devices which have received awards in international exhibitions and also the ancestors of contemporary computers.