|INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL «URBAN OUTCAST», 8–21 August 2010, Riga|
Today, twenty years after the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union, there are still areas on the outskirts of Riga (the capital of Latvia) that have to deal with the industrial, military, architectural and social consequences of the previous era. Bolderāja – an outlying wing of the city, located in the picturesque area on the Baltic coast 14 kilometers from the city centre downstream along the Daugava river – presents a challenging mixture: a traditional urban pattern of a coastal settlement, remains of the unfinished Riga outpost fortress from the early 17th century, a regular military campus structure from the early 19th century showing evidence of the industrial sprawl of the following period and large-scale Soviet-era dwelling areas. Conflicting significances and a dense cultural diversity has led Bolderāja to obtain the identity of an urban outcast within the city. However, the history and the strategically significant location near the mouth of the Daugava river, - just 2 kilometers from the Gulf of Riga – calls for a careful examination and reformulation of the unique cultural identity and locus of this district.
Bolderāja presents a significant challenges for a shift towards a different perception of the urban outcast phenomenon. The context of an urban outcast has the capacity of an exciting advantage to reveal a previously unused layering of the city that can be used for future urban regeneration and reintegration of the city parts. Multiple interpretations of global and local context can lead to a change of the urban conditions in Bolderāja.
The Summer School «Urban Outcast» was aimed at discussing urbanization and the 'non-places', various social and economy-related issues, public space and urban identity aspects in the given marginal context and investigating possible strategic interventions.
Tutors: Liene Jakobsone & Manten Devriendt
Bolderāja is an area with a long history. The elements (such as the urban structure, infrastructure, buildings, etc.) representing the different historical periods are still noticeable. Just as rich as the heritage left by people is the nature, that has been evolving along with the civilization. However, you might need some help to fully appreciate that, such as a guide or a marked route, for instance. Well, that’s exactly what we did during the summer school – make the bRoute!
Tutors: Zane Deruma & Herman Zonderland
More than 2/3 of the residents of Riga are living in standardized apartment buildings, which are almost identical visually. A large part of Bolderāja consists of these Soviet era buildings. Most of the life goes on behind a monotone Soviet facade overshadowing the unique people living there.
Tutors: Evelina Ozola & Jurrian Arnold
Due to the remote location, a run-down environment and social issues, Bolderāja has gained the image of a problematic and unpopular neighborhood. There is, however, a contradiction between this reputation and the real situation – a closer inspection reveals a historically and spatially rich environment: the mouths of two rivers, a fishermen village, a military outpost, an industrial centre and testing grounds for housing estate construction.
Tutors: Ilze Paklone & Ryan Manton
Places emit certain atmospheres, which develop independently of any city-planning and become a crucial factor to the perception of a place. The austere, brutal, functional modernist buildings of the Soviet era sit next to the small, sensitive local buildings from the period, when the area was a fishing village and part of the coastal river defense. When combined, these elements create a collage of conflicting atmospheres in Bolderāja that tell us a whole story about the place.
Tutors: Mārtiņš Jaunromāns & Vents Vīnbergs
An architects` approach is to a great extent merely medical - give them a space and they will examine it with their skills, knowledge and theories, diagnose the location and solve the problem frigidly. But is the space always a patient that desperately asks for a specific treatment? And what if the recovery fails and instead of being saved something is irretrievably lost? And above all - what defines the value that a space represents? Whether you refer to it as the aura of the place or a story, it is concealed in a wholly preset vocabulary. To what extent can its identity be preserved after certain rearrangements have taken place?