The Mezaparks project in Riga is essentially a complete new district of the historic Latvian capital. Mezaparks is conceived as a rich and varied tapestry structured to allow for maximum flexibility in its realisation, promoting multi-use and providing for different forms of living.
Cities are special environments because they gather people with different interests and different intentions – the opposite of the business park or the shopping mall environment where life is defined by one user group only.
The development of Mezaparks should be balanced in order to ensure that the streets, public spaces and adjoining retail/gastronomy, etc. remain lively throughout the course of the day.
100 years ago there were many necessary daily activities that served to animate outdoor spaces. Activities like walking to and from work or shopping for groceries on a daily basis created lively street scenes - especially in urban areas of high density. Life today is very different. Fewer people occupy the same amount of the built environment, space standards have increased and there are fewer reasons for us to be outdoors and populate and/or interact with public spaces. Many people drive to work by car, shopping has often been reduced to a weekly event thanks to advances in refrigeration technology. Urban life will therefore only occur where high quality public realm is provided and public spaces are well designed to invite people to use them.
Our vision for Mezaparks is decidedly optimistic, offering the opportunity for self-expression, fostering communication and the essential sense of community which is prevalent in cities, for example Barcelona. As in the case of many city districts Mezaparks is to have a distinct character, however different situations and different densities allow each of the city blocks to have its own identity, respecting human scale, offering much improved living/working conditions, providing an individual address, investing in and providing for the expansion of a socially orientated infrastructure and, importantly, contributing to the public realm.
Alta Capital Real-Estate Partners
Behnisch Architekten, Stuttgart
2005, 1st prize