The capital city of Latvia faced real challenges in the last decades that changed its economy, morphology, and identity. After 2008, many vast spaces remained vacant because of the disappearance of former economic activities. In the meantime, the local artistic and cultural scene was booming and needed space to blossom. From that point, a citizen initiative emerged to highlight this paradox and act to push forward temporary uses projects.
Founded in 2015, The NGO Free Riga has a central role while acting as an intermediary between vacant spaces owners, the municipality, and users to implement projects. The grassroots movement soon became a key partner for the municipality in its policy against vacancy. Since it activated more than 40,000 square meters of empty premises.
The initiative creates open and social spaces and revitalizes neighborhoods. The latest project V36 – Institute of Quality of Life Design offers 15,000 square meters of a former university building to host artist’s workshops, offices, studios, production units, start-ups, NGOs, warehouses, cultural and educational events.