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Open Space in City Planning


Detailed description of the Good Practice

In December 2004, an Open Space event was arranged in Riga as a part of the Kalnciema-project, the purpose of which was to modernize and restore the historical Kalnciema-street in the city centre. In the project, democratic culture and the active engagement of citizens were to be promoted and for it the Open Space-method was supported by the German partner, Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation. The tool was chosen, as it is an action-oriented planning instrument, which spurs the involvement of citizens and takes the unknown conflict-laden task and the heterogeneous interests into account.

  • City planning
  • Stakeholder involvement

Objectives of the Good Practice

The goal of the Open Space was to identify the interests, to create a network between the different groups, to find common goals, to develop own ideas and initiatives and working-plans for their realization. All attendees had the possibility to introduce their topics into debate, to participate in up to four different working groups and to make use of what is known the methodology of visualizing the debates by pinning self-written arguments and propositions on the wall.

Participants of the Good Practice

The project is headed by the mayor of Riga and includes the inhabitants of Kalnciema iela, the office for the
city’s development, the building authority for monument preservation, the NGO “Latvia Nostra”, the Hansabanka
and the firm “Kalnozols”.

Target group of the Good Practice


More Details of the Good Practice

The open-space event was a huge success. On their own initiative, the participants agreed on seven particular activities that would be realized during the following months:

  • Public project information in shop windows on Kalnciema iela
  • Objects on the street that catch attention for the project
  • Research on the street’s historical development
  • Project supporting the interests of involved actors (with the possibility to found an organization for the citizens’ initiative)
  • Project information centre with the offer for citizen counseling in aspects of city development, monument preservation and life in historical wooden houses; as a long-term objective: citizen-friendly administrative work in cooperation with the two adjacent district administrations
  • Expertise for further development, critical analysis of the city government’s strategy with participation of both citizens and independent experts
  • Construction of a children’s playground as the initiative of some citizens

Feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. Especially concerning their impression of “for the first time being taken seriously” shows on one hand the need for such kind of support for civil society. The transparent way of the whole event, the taken responsibility and shown passion by the persons and their statements for more personal active engagement gives hope for the further debating over Kalnciemas development. The need for an independent organization that cooperates in the peoples’ interest with Riga’s administration was furthermore expressed.

Available files

Kalnciema_iela.pdf433.40 KiB

Contact details

Latvia Nostra
Marijas iela 13 - IV
Riga, LV-1050
Fax: 7502315
Tel.: 7502313

Data sources and references

Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in Latvia: Project Introduction - "Kalnciema iela – Modernizing Urbanity" (03/2005)

http://www.fes-baltic.lv/cms/upload/dokumente/Kalnciema_iela.pdf (Visited on the 12th of February 2009)