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Regeneration of Andrejsala - Riga, Latvia

Part 2 Project 2010
Jonathan Pickford
Plymouth University Plymouth UK
This industrial / educational scheme proposes a new adaptable strategy for the site of Andrejsala and the city of Riga. Using education as a key component to ensure less reliance upon unstable global trends and producing knowledge to utilize the country’s vast natural resources.
Based on cradle-to-cradle principles and building on Riga’s historic relationship with timber, this process will start from sustainably-managed government-owned forests, supplying timber that will be transported via the Daugava River to Andrejsala for processing, and then distributed by rail throughout the city, country and Europe.

The techniques used to construct the proposed educational centre will be linked to the school’s syllabus. Following Constructivist Educational Theory, which argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from their experiences, carpentry students will shape the development of the building, constructing ‘additions' within a mobile workshop frame. This system of continuous creation allows room for creative freedom, as a consequence, elements will emerge ‘by chance’. To limit the ‘chance’ of detrimental results, the process will take place within a defined armature and follow a set of guidelines.

This process allows the building to become both a learning structure and a place of constant self healing. Fine-tuning is what turns a building from a nuisance into a joy, and this proposal aims to make the tuning process an integral part of the building's design rather than an awkward organizational dilemma. Continuation of this autonomous system is assured with the constant renewal and fuel for maintaining the process arriving annually in the form of enthusiastic students and new timber harvests.

The timber cubes that form much of the completed building use traditional timber joints and standard small section timbers, allowing on-site fabrication and assembly while allowing for the incorporation of many traditional building elements. Although the development has a more contemporary aesthetic, the construction processes can be extended to reconstruct the city's fabric of traditional timber buildings. The building becomes a precedent for what can be achieved using small section Latvian timber, a locally trained workforce and simple construction techniques.



Jonathan Pickford


Jonathan’s work grows out of a critique of meta-narratives prioritising commodification, and explores an alternative for the regeneration of Riga’s port of Andrejsala based on a joined-up approach embracing cultural, economic, and ecological intentions. In the post-credit crunch economy of Riga, the speculative investment that fuelled the city has derailed, rendering mute proposals for the consumption-driven model of the global city. In this context, Jonathan’s proposal acts to stimulate local economic growth while supporting ecological sustainability. Simultaneously it recognises the significance of cultural identity in a place long subject to the impositions of external forces.

Grounded in an incremental approach, it builds off what the site and wider context has to give not only physically, but also culturally, economically and historically. It acts strategically to re-vitalize the country’s timber industry, while reinforcing practices that will sustain the area’s existing eco-system. At the urban scale an armature links and reinvigorates existing public spaces and events, and serves as a platform off which new structures and activities can emerge. An intrinsic multiplicity in the conceptualisation of this armature allows for flux in the uses that occur on weekly and seasonal basis; a locus of industrial production during the week is re-inhabited at the weekend and during festivals as a place of social and cultural gathering. His building proposal builds off the ambitions of this urban strategy; it aims not just to satisfy immediate programmatic requirements, but equally enables generative functions fostering further economic and physical regeneration. The proposition carefully considers and embraces the existing though ailing timber industry. It nurtures its growth through construction training and research which in turn can support regeneration beyond Andrejsala, and concurrently revive associated wood-based manufacturing. This attitude is echoed in the articulation of his proposition at the human scale and the level of the tectonic detail with a proposition that is pragmatic yet speculative. Its resolution accommodates existing construction technology while anticipating the appropriation and adaptation that will enable successive inhabitants to generate a sense of ownership over the structures.


Robert Brown
Associate Professor in Architecture / Master of Architecture Programme Leader

Tutor(s)
Mr Robert Brown

2010
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