Kristine Vugule (Latvia University of Agriculture);
Simon Bell (Estonian University of Life Sciences)

The Soviet Modernisation of the Public Road Landscape

Under the Soviet regime and as part of the development of the overall economy, the Latvian road infrastructure and its associated landscape went through major changes. As a result of modernisation the old roads were straightened, the historically established road routes and their surroundings were changed, new roads were planned and constructed, some elements of the road landscape disappeared and new ones emerged. Snow and wind protection hedges were planted along open stretches. With the increase of public transport many unique bus stop pavilions were built and rest areas for drivers and tourists were created. A lot of attention was paid to roadside views and aesthetics through the use of tree plantings. The aim of this study was to explore the heritage of road planning and road landscape development in Latvia during the Soviet era from 1945 to 1991. The study was based on a literature review and analyses of maps and archival materials from the Latvian road museum supported by fieldwork. Elements which are currently disappearing as the road network is upgraded through European structural funding were identified through map analyses of different time periods and a number of field studies of sample stretches of roads, between 2015 to 2018. Road infrastructure and the landscape of that time is part of the cultural heritage of the 20th century and is connected to the development of the rural economy and collectivisation as well as the military preparedness. The study uncovered a well-developed road planning and landscape design theory which was set up and applied in Latvia and used as an example for other Soviet Republics.

Andrejsons V., Sviķis H. (2016) Latvijas zemes ceļi un autoceļi (Latvian gravel and autoroads). Riga (In Latvian)
Slēde E., Vikmanis E.(1980) Latvijas PSR autoceļu būves pieredze (Latvian SSR autoroad building experience). Riga: Avots, p. 173 (In Latvian)
Full-text available here: DOI: 10.1051/SHSCONF/20196304004