Workshop in Riga, Latvia

“Event City” – International Summer School



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“Event cities” - Spaces for social interaction

Event City was linked with the Frankfurt conference (November, 2011, “City of Future”) where architects and urban planners from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Germany dealt with basic questions of sustainable city development of European cities and implications for hotspots and examples of various cities were presented and discussed.

The summer school in 2012 in Latvia focussed on the assumption that cities are formed around events and rituals and their processions. Agricultural, seasonal, social, political, commercial, religious, even mythological festivities - there is no living city without action or without program.

Interplay between rituals and architecture

Humans want rituals. For rituals they build some of the most incredible structures on the earth. Over millennia, they organise their lives and built environment around them. Rituals give shape, form and meaning to social relationships, while human settlements become vessels for entire social assemblies - event cities.

As rituals give rise to architecture, so architecture in turn perpetuates new rituals. The Summer School explored this exchange in either or both directions. Moreover, it positioned itself among collisions of programs and spaces, in which the two intermingle, combine and implicate one another in the production of events.

The static notions of form and function long favoured by modernists were replaced by attention to the contemporary forms of life that occur inside and around buildings - to the movement of bodies, to activities, to cultural codes, to associated material worlds, to aspirations, to the social and political dimension of architecture.

Location - Cesis one of the oldest towns in Latvia

During the summer period from to 2012, the International Summer School took place in Cesis, one of the oldest towns in Latvia. It lies in Vidzeme Upland near the winding valley of river Gauja.

In its historical development Cesis has gone through periods of growth as well as shrinkage. 800 years ago it rose as an important trade centre in Livonia, experienced a heavy decline in the 18th century due to wars, fires and plague, and managed to recover and prosper in later centuries. Its favourable position in road and railway network advanced economic development; scenic surroundings and rich historical heritage attracted vacationers.

During the Soviet era Cesis escaped the heavy industrialization that changed many other towns, instead it set an aim of becoming the cultural capital of Vidzeme region. Today Cesis, as most mid-sized towns in Latvia, is seeing its residents move away and neighbouring towns of Valmiera and Sigulda becoming more competitive with their sports, educational and recreational infrastructure. In response to the negative demographic trends Cesis puts emphasis on creating events that bring a lively buzz into its streets – festivals of arts, music and revival of medieval customs.

Guests from Germany

Goethe-Institut in Riga invited two German architects, Jan Liesegang, raumlabor berlin, and Karsten Huneck, KHBT, London and Berlin, to participate on the summer school.

Jan Liesegang (* 1968) born in Cologne in 1968, he studied Architecture in Berlin (TU Berlin), Copenhagen (Kunstakademie) and New York (Cooper Union, School of Architecture). He graduated from the TU Berlin with a Diplom (Masters) in 1997 and was awarded the Prize for Best Diplom (Masters) Thesis. 1998–2001 he worked for Sauerbruch Hutton Architects in Berlin. In 1999 he co-founded raumlabor berlin. He has been teaching at the Art Academy, Stuttgart from 2001- 2008. In 2010 study visit at the german academy Villa Massimo in Rome.


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Karsten Huneck (* 1970) graduated with a diploma in Architecture from Technische Universität in Darmstadt, Germany and is a fully ARB and RIBA qualified architect in the UK. Karsten is a partner of the osa_office for subversivearchitecture / KHBT who are engaged and dedicated todeveloping projects that work between art and architecture and has been invited to lecturesworldwide i.e. the Surface Show in London 2007 or British council in Moscow 2008 or the Goethe Institute in NY in 2009 and is actively involved with universities around the world. Since 2008 he is also a visiting professor at the ESA, ecole special d’architecture (Paris) where he is leading a design unit with Bernd Trümpler. Since 2009 Hunrck is a partner with Trumpler at KHBT in London and Berlin which is also known as osaLondon/Berlin.

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The summer school was organized by the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, TU Riga, in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut in Riga and supported by DAAD, Culture Capital Foundation Latvia (SCCF), VIAA (State Education Development Agency, Latvia) and City Council Cesis.

Related links

Dossier: Urban Development in Germany and Latvia

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Dossier: Post-Industrial Cities and Culture in Germany and the Czech Republic

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