European Regional Development Fund
European Regional Development Fund

Latvia – Riga – Sarkandaugava

Urban area

Sarkandaugava is a district in Northern Riga, on the East bank of the river Daugava. Similarly to Bolderāja, the urban fabric is made up of two different typologies – Soviet time block housing as well as smaller scale historical wooden housing. The dwelling areas are surrounded by heavy industry and infrastructure. It is historically built as the living area for people working in the factories. Still today, Sarkandaugava is concentrating a lot of industry and similarly to Sarkandaugava, large part of the area is owned by the Riga Freeport. The point of interest is the E. fon Trompovska quarter in which lays one of the biggest factory buildings in the Soviet Union – 53 000 m2 building with a floor spanning 300 meters.


Sarkandaugava neighborhood has 16687 inhabitants (as of 2018)and predominantly working class with 6.9% unemployment rate. The fight against outside triggers has united the inhabitants and with the help of some strong individual activists, a strong community group has formed.

Challenges identified

The post-industrial working-class image is very strong, but surprisingly, the Riga Psychiatry and narcology Center, located in the heart of the neighborhood, has been delivering more stigma to the area than anything else.

Visions and aims

Currently the factory is in the process of being sold to a real estate company in Riga. The real estate company is interested in collaborating with house guardian organisation Free Riga, which would mean a large quantity of square meters are available for cultural activities in Riga. The industry has taken away all of the possible access to the water and with the opening up of the area by the water, it is exciting the extend the mental borders of the local inhabitants as their neighborhood has always ended with the industrial belt.

Cultural planning approach

Sarkandaugava is in a state of change. A large road infrastructural change can deliver a lot of good as well as segregate the area even more. Similarly with the factory building – it can become a great hotspot for the local inhabitants, but it can also turn its back to the local community and cater largely to the outside population. Free Riga as an organisation is willing to work more as a social connector and co-developer of properties and less as content creators, therefore this would be a good practice to see how to integrate such a large project in the local routines.

Not only Free Riga, but also the neighborhood community and local schools and museums are cultural drivers in the neighborhood, so the cultural planning project should emphasize and support this existing network of activists. There are also other institutions in Riga, who are interested in doing projects in this area , which all makes this point in time perfect, for the Urb-cultural planning project to take place.


Diary of Sarkandaugava click here.

Process booklet click here.

Baseline study click here.