Redevelopment of Torņakalns district

Description of the practice: 



Before 2005, the surroundings of the Torņakalns Railway Station were used for private gardens. Afterwards, the use of territory changed - Torņakalns was chosen as a place for building a campus of the University of Latvia. The campus development project began in 2009, with the technical design works starting in September 2013. The first building — the Academic Centre of Natural Sciences was finished and commissioned on 28 August 2015.

The campus is located at 1 Jelgavas Street on the left bank of River Daugava, on a 4.5 hectare (45 000 m2) land lot belonging to the University of Latvia. Old Riga is just a 15 minutes’ walk away right across the bridge. There is one bus route passing the campus directly, and a large choice of public transport routes (buses, trams, trolleybuses) passing by the National Library of Latvia building only 6-minute walk away. This busy stop includes also a bus headed to/from Riga International Airport, which is approximately 25-minute drive away. There is also Torņakalns train station 7-minutes walk away from the campus, providing convenient connections to Riga agglomeration cities, such as Olaine, Jelgava and Jurmala. In its current phase, the campus features also a parking space for 100 cars (including 4 parking spaces for the handicapped) and 200 bicycles.

The campus will be developed on a 70 000 m2 land lot belonging to the University of Latvia with the total floor area of the study and research buildings estimated to be 70 000 m2. The Science Center will be similar in size to the Academic Center of Natural Sciences, with floor space of 20 000 m2The Centre of Humanities and Social Sciences will be the largest building on the campus - with 30 000 m2 floor space, approximately 8000 students and a separate building volume housing a large auditorium with 550-700 seats.  Student housing will provide 2500-3000 beds. The total planned number of people on the campus is approximately 15 000 students and 1800 personnel.


Conversion of area for private gardens into a high quality higher education and research center for 15 000 students and 1800 researchers.


The following methods were used:

  • Interviews,
  • focus groups,
  • expert meetings.

Stakeholders were involved in the planning and building stage of the campus area.


Revised campus development plan and campus design guidelines.


Further description of the experiences: 
Lessons learned & challenges

Despite the excellent position and the close proximity to the city centre, the area is considered a brownfield territory, and the connectivity with the surrounding neighbourhoods is an issue: the campus area is isolated by a railway embankment from the north, a ditch (Kīleveina grāvis) on the east and a stretch of undeveloped land on the west and south. The ditch also separates the campus area from the much busier business/residential area between Jelgavas Street and Mūkusalas Street (the quay of River Daugava).

Possibilities that were opened up for the area?

A detailed investigation of the potential for campus project implementation.

Continuous revision of plans (changing campus development plan and guidelines), participation of public and other stakeholders at early stage saves time.


Photo credits: Indriķis Stūrmanis, 2015