Ziepju, Riga, Latvia

User involvement in renovation and energy efficiency

Ziepju Street 11 is an old Soviet housing block in need of renovation. Built in 1970, the block was originally a service hotel for the employees of the nearby trolley bus park, but the building has been left empty since 2018. Now the building is being rebuilt into a residential building for social housing with two daycare centers for children and people with mental disabilities. 

With up to 6000 modernist building blocks up for renovation and energy efficiency improvements in upcoming years in Riga, the case is an opportunity to kickstart a discussion of existing renovation practices in order to find affordable, sustainable, and inclusive solutions. The involvement of local stakeholders, social workers, sensitive groups of future inhabitants and clients will be an important part of this process.

  • Stories and photos
  • The Site
  • Area qualities
  • Vision

Here you find stories and slide shows from Ziepju street 11. Below this section, you can find the background story for the site.

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FILM. Desire presents: ''Giving the citizens a voice'' in Riga, Latvia

FILM: In Riga, the Desire an Irresistible Circular Society project is facing the biggest challenge we have here: Changing the mentality of the people that they are not only users living with a central system that deals with everything but that they are users that can actively engage in and create their own city – their own home.

Have a look at the new Desire film with our partner Riga municipality, Rudis Rubenis and Ieva Zībārte, Representative of the municipalities department Rigas Buildings. The filmmaker is Benjamin Hesselholdt. The Desire project is a part of the EU initiative New European Bauhaus.

(02)
Story: Green transition in Riga: Citizens must learn to get involved and take responsibility for their own housing

As something completely new in Latvia, the Desire partner Riga Municipality involves citizens in the renovation of a Soviet era apartment block and its outdoor area. The hope is that it will become the first really good example of Soviet housing block renovation in Riga and that others join forces to follow the example.

Read the article

Our Desire team in Riga. From left: Rudis Rubenis, Arnita Verza, and Emils Zinkevics. Photo: Hanne Kokkegård, DTU Compute

Photos: Swings, football fields, and sandboxes: Kids are giving ideas to Riga City Council

Citizen involvement processes are a new way of thinking in Latvia. In Riga, the basement in Ziepju 11 is being rebuilt into a residential building for social housing with two daycare centres for children and people with mental disabilities. In September 2023 Riga City Council invited school kids to a workshop to hear their ideas for the green area around the building. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt.

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023, with Rudis Rubenis. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Workshop for school kids in September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Story: What makes a desirable courtyard to support social and inclusive housing? Workshop in Riga, August 2023

In Riga, the municipality plans to renovate an old block of flats. Through the Desire project, the municipality involves the citizens in the process of creating green surroundings, where nature plays a major role. Click on the link to read the story

On August 10 2023, Riga Municipality facilitated - with help from Aalborg University, Denmark - a workshop to explore what makes a desirable courtyard to support social and inclusive housing?

Participants included existing and future inhabitants and a mix of elderly and families, creating an atmosphere where diverse perspectives on the topics and design proposals were represented.

Through participatory formats, we explored the potential and challenges of the courtyard as it is and together we collaborated on creating and presenting various design opportunities that offer a great starting point for the further development of the Ziepju site. Have a look at the photos from the workshop and see the suggestions for the area.

Photos: Rudis Rubenis, Project Coordinator 

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

Credit: Rudis Rubenis, Riga Municipality

The site

We have prepared a Design Manifesto and five design principles (engagement tools) to steer us and the activities. This site has chosen these design principles. Principle: Belonging | Principle: Biodiversity | Principle: Aesthetics. Learn more here 

(01)
With up to 6000 modernist block buildings up for renovation and energy efficiency improvements in upcoming years Riga is in dire need to kickstart a cross disciplinary discussion and re-evaluation of existing renovation practices in order to find affordable and context-sensitive approaches.

The operation of the building in Riga, Ziepju street 11, began in 1970 when it was used as a service hotel for the employees of the nearby trolley bus park. It was built as a five-story building of brick and panel construction with a basement. The building has been empty since 2018. In the same year, a decision was made to rebuild the building into a multi-apartment rental residential building.

Through another initiative, the process has begun to locally adapt the principles of material and construction circularity to refurbish a derelict Soviet building to modern living standards while striving for small innovations for municipal social services that build on the strengths of the community and neighbourhood. The project will house families with physical and mental disabilities opening the ground level to a variety of social services and community centres for the neighbourhood thus forming a symbiotic relationship between different groups.

(02)
In Ziepju (@riga.lv - Latvia), an old Soviet social housing block needs renovation. The site will experiment with a new way forward in public renovation and transformation projects, building on inclusion and circularity, with the aim of transforming the old housing area into an attractive living environment. At our partner meeting in Amsterdam in May 2023, we asked Rudis Rubenis from RIGA CITY COUNCIL to tell us about the work. Press the icon at the bottom right of the video to expand the image and see the entire video.

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Riga, September 2023. Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Area qualities

(01)
The project serves as the city’s attempt to re-evaluate the qualities of socialist architectural design and its form and function based social programming within modern socio- economic and ecological context.

In the race for affordable energy efficiency solutions, the aesthetics of modernist buildings are neglected thus producing masses of identically looking, poor design neighbourhoods. In turn, such negligence continues to further erode the communities, local identity, and place attachment.

Vision

(01)
The future vision must merge the ideas of local stakeholders, social workers, sensitive groups of future inhabitants and clients with architects, designers, planners, landscape-architects, and artists for cross-disciplinary and innovation.

Up until know there was no scenario detailed with landscape taken into consideration, so we must work on incorporating surrounding landscape with similar approach. Deconstruct limitations of the building by expanding functionality outdoors – adjust stakeholder needs, wishes with sustainable, biodiverse landscape that can tackle climate change induced di culties. By looking at housing projects and surrounding environment as complex picture, we can achieve even better use of materials, compatible solutions for stormwater management and elevate not only living conditions for inhabitants, but also improving city`s green and blue infrastructures.