Wooden Riga - Promoting the Cultural and Historical Heritage of Grīziņkalns

Description of the practice: 
Time frame

April 2010 - January 2013


The main aim of the project was to revitalize the historical wooden factory district in the Grīziņkalns area in Riga and as such, create a unique tourist attraction of 19th century wooden architecture preserving both cultural and historical heritage. At the same time, the reconstructed and transformed buildings would mark a new beginning for the area formerly known for the old factories built during the Soviet times (producing machinery, lead and zinc paints, metal, mineral oil and tinned food) where the residents used to be mostly factory workers and their families coming to the city from other regions (Vidzeme, Zemgale and Latgale regions).

Overall, the wooden factory district in Grīziņkalns hosts 23 wooden buildings of which more than a half are in unsatisfactory condition – burned or otherwise degraded, giving an impression of a squalid area. Furthermore, the environment in the area has been previously perceived as rather disorganized, unattractive and unsafe for both for the locals and the tourists. Reconstruction of one of the oldest buildings was the first step in the process of freshening up the area.

Grīziņkalns with its unique wooden buildings is also attractive to the tourists since the buildings are a component of national culturally historical monument – Riga Historical Centre which also belongs to the UNESCO World Culture Heritage list.

The project was implemented in parallel with other noteworthy reconstruction work projects in the area of Grīziņkalns as part of revitalization of the degraded territory e.g. Miera garden revitalization.

In the framework of the project, the oldest wooden building (approx. 140 years old) located in Krāsotaju Street 12 was reconstructed and transformed into a wooden architecture center.


The Project was developed and implemented by - Municipality of Riga (Riga City Council: City Development Department).

  • Development of wooden architectural heritage complex as internationally recognized cultural tourism attraction in Grīziņkalns.

Specific Objective(s)

  • Strengthening wooden architectural restoration-reconstruction and environmental infrastructure of Grīziņkalns;
  • Improve wooden architectural heritage marketing of Grīziņkalns.
  • Reconstruction and transformation of the oldest wooden building in Krāsotaju Street 12
  • Placement of surveillance cameras (Mūrnieku, Pļavas, Zaķu, Krāsotāju and Lienes street)
  • Setting up the street directions in Grīzinkalns and placement of street signs and directions
  • Revitalization of two parks in the area

The primary stakeholders included the residents of Grīziņkalns, tourists and guest of the City of Riga, Riga City Council and tourism operators. Stakeholder involvement: Tourism operators were participating in designing routes for the Grīziņkalns area while the local residents participated in video creation about Grīziņkalns area and its residents.


Wooden architecture and information center "Koka Riga" that offers diverse range of culture and art events; informs about tourism attractions in Grīziņkalns.


Further description of the experiences: 
Lessons learned & challenges
  • Additional work and additional expenditures arose during the project implementation that were not foreseen in the initially planned activities/budget;
  • Cooperation with Intermediate body of the Project (responsible for audit and control) was not successful. For example, failed to meet deadlines, as well requirements were too strict for implementers;
  • Manager of the house was not responsive during the project implementation.
Possibilities that were opened up for the area?

It became a unique place that not only refreshes the area (renovated building, installed surveillance cameras, street signs, etc.), but also offers diverse range of culture and art events. In the cozy atmosphere of Koka Riga (the wooden architecture centre), the visitors may enjoy the events of the modern culture in different genres and ambiences. Various public events such as seminars, conferences, exhibitions are organized in the large exhibition hall.  One of the exhibitions demonstrates the renovation methods that were used in the surroundings of Grīziņkalns. Tourist information center is situated on the first floor of the building. The building also acts as a competence center for collecting the information regarding the renovation of wooden buildings and the methods of renovation.