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Reconstruction of Riga Central Station and its territory under the Rail Baltica project will be effected through ideas by the Danish PLH/COWI (+photo, video)

23. March 2017. g.

At a festive ceremony on 22 March, the premiums assigned by the international jury were awarded to members of the competition „Development of the Rail Baltica Riga railway bridge and Riga Central Multimodal Public Transportation Hub area“, and a decision was announced – the Rail Baltica project „Reconstruction of Riga Central Station, development of a new bridge over River Daugava, and linking municipal area by dismantling the railway embankment from Dzirnavu to Krasta Street“ will be carried out according to the sketch design proposed by the architect office PLH Arkitekter in cooperation with COWI (Denmark).

Uldis Augulis, the Minister of Transport has proposed to form an inter-institutional board to champion also the development of broader urban space during buildup of Rail Baltica project, which was approved at the festive ceremony by Edgars Tavars, parliamentary secretary of the Ministry. He addressed the visitants: „The Ministry of Transport has highlighted the significance of this project not only on Latvia's scale, but also in terms of its engineering solutions and development prospects for our capital. Rail Baltica is a European project; thus, we appreciate the incentive of Riga Central Station development, which will make Riga the centre, kernel of project. The sketch design competition aimed at making Riga an attractive place in future for both vehicles and urban development. These incentives are capable of significantly transforming the urban landscape: by improving it. For instance, by linking parts of the city, which separated it and the locals by a railway embankment. We are fully aware of the project's significance, which is why the Minister of Transport is committed to establishing an inter-institutional board, which will supervise the project to preserve values of the capital city in order for the project to be brought about of due quality, aesthetics and considering future development prospects.“ The parliamentary secretary praised also local architects, who demonstrated they can be well recognized at an international competition.

Riga – the driver of growth

Baiba Rubesa, chairperson of the board at RB Rail, congratulated on behalf of the joint venture of three Baltic States all participants on the opportunity to share ideas and encouraged for a discussion about the future development of Riga Central Station. According to Rubesa „The project we are talking about – the Central Station project – is unique in terms of technology, funding, and the broad number of stakeholders. It is located in the very heart of Riga every day bringing many people together, and it is the section of the highest complexity in all three Baltic States.“ She reminded the Rail Baltica project has no earmarked funds for reconstruction of urban environment, since the funding is allocated for the railway construction only, „and this is why the topic of funding sources should be brought into this discussion, which might be a good topic during the pre-election period“. She agreed that efficient implementation formats will be needed for the implementation of the project, and therefore the incentive of the Minister of Transport – to invite various experts for comprehensive solutions – is highly welcomed. „Referring to conclusions by State Inspection for Heritage Protection, I do share their invitation to search for solutions for this part of the city through consulting with other awarded architects.
The contemporary stations are no longer a mere place of passenger service; they represent a driver of growth, foundation of new regional economic centres, and this is true also for the adjoining areas, which is why there is great potential for Riga. I hope, the implementation of the new Riga Central Station project will make maximum use of available opportunities and produce smart solutions, which will be a benefit to Riga and the whole country. This will become the most visible Rail Baltica element in Latvia,“ told Rubesa.

Businesslike approach by the jury

At the awarding ceremony, Jānis Dripe, expert from the Ministry of Culture, chairman of the jury, gave thanks on behalf of the jury to all participants, indicating the jury was comprised of remarkable international experts – architect Julia Bolles-Wilson and the urban planner Jonathan Kendall, and the jury made a consensus decision. „We acted businesslike, supported or „bought“ ideas, which are of relevance to the city,“ he justified the choice. The existing railway bridge was deemed a great challenge by the jury chairman:  „It is a challenge both in terms of functionality, comfort, and monument supervision. If we are able to bring this idea about, we would be among the European avantgarde group proving how industrial heritage can be used.“ Reflecting upon the successful sketch design, Dripe told: „We were convinced by their approach to the mandatory part, their architectonic offer, social responsibility, and attitude towards society. And the vision by Latvian architects provides the city with opportunities and benefits. We shall enact the jury's proposal to approve the inter-institutional board either at minister's or prime minister's level, which would systematically, every year would consider the project to be a true benefit to the city also in terms of funding.“
Please be reminded that on 27 November, 2016, in Riga, the international jury awarded two second places in the sketch design competition „Development of the Rail Baltica Riga railway bridge and Riga Central Multimodal Public Transportation Hub area“, since neither of the entries met all of the requirements by the contracting party. Jury awarded three success premiums to three entries – architects from Denmark, France, and Estonia, – ideas, which might be of interest to the contracting authority in future.  A special success premium was awarded to architects from Spain, who proposed a different vision of the Daugava Crossing.

Awarded entries:

* 2nd Place and a premium of 45,000 Euro, slogan R2I0G1A6, authors: architect office PLH Arkitekter in cooperation with COWI, Denmark

* 2nd Place and a premium of 45,000 Euro, slogan SMXL2022, authors: partnership of architects O+R+V+E+L, Latvia

* Special recognition and premium of 21,000 Euro, slogan RING2022, authors: BAC Engeneering Consultancy Group, Spain

* Recognition and premium of 13,000 Euro, slogan ARIS2654, authors: Bordas+Peiro Architecte, France

* Recognition and premium of 13,000 Euro, slogan ARST2919, authors: Gottlieb Paludan Architects, Denmark

* Recognition and premium of 13,000 Euro, slogan XYVI0368, authors: Kolm Pluss Üks, Estonia

All competition works are available there 

Antecedently to the the jury commission, the entries of the sketch design competition were evaluated by a professional Technical Expert Commission. The collated opinions by the technical experts and the jury experts on the sketch designs, the jury established that the quality of entries is rather different. Having reviewed and assessed the proposed sketch designs, the jury acknowledged there are several good ideas, but not a single to address all the customer's wishes and work assignments defined by the design programme of the competition. However, there was even a record-high and global interest, since more than 200 parties representing 37 countries expressed their interest to participate in the competition. This is attributed to the high international recognition of the project Rail Baltica.

Work assigned: go!

Agnis Driksna, who is the Head of Development and Cooperation Department at SIA Eiropas Dzelzceļa līnijas, the implementer of the new-coming European gauge railway project Rail Baltica in Latvia, noticed the development of Riga Central Station and related territories is the most complex, challenging, and beneficial object of Rail Baltica project. He said: „At the very beginning of planning the project, Latvia had two options: first, to connect Rail Baltica railway to existing object without significantly affecting it; while the second option, which we are awarding today and commit to further development thereof, is the option to have a look at the object in general from the viewpoint of Rail Baltica project: in terms in benefits to passengers, locals, and the city. Today we are celebrating the fact that all of us – coming either from Latvia, or Europe – had a broader view. Not only in delivering the mandatory part of the competition – the Rail Baltica element, but demonstrating a wider view as to how to develop this area comprehensively by linking both parts of the city, which were separated by a railway embankment, by making the station more convenient to the passengers, by allowing the station to fit in the urban environment, and by bringing all of this about: providing opportunities to further developments.“ Driksna recognized the inter-institutional board will be among the key elements of successful project implementation. Speaking about the tasks done and future steps, he told „there was dense interaction during the last three months with all stakeholders: Ministry of Transport, Latvijas dzelzceļš, Riga City Council, International Bus Terminal, and others to jointly assess the next step to be undertaken. The decision on the Station project has now been made, which shall be followed by the great work to be done together in order to bring these ideas to life.“

During the festive ceremony, Ilze, Martinsone, Head of the Museum of Architecture, revealed some interesting facts about the Central Station building.

Be reminded, the procurement on construction design and construction works of the Riga Central Station project is scheduled to be launched at the beginning of next year. The construction design shall be elaborated in 2019, and construction is envisaged to be commenced by 2022.

It has already been reported that Rail Baltica is a railway transport project, which aims to integrate the Baltic States within the European railway network, and at present it covers four countries: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. It is envisaged to build a new more than 700 km long European gauge (1435 mm) railway line with a maximum speed of 240 km/h contributing to mobility of inhabitants and cargo shipments on the North-South axis, and a sustainable and diversified development of national economies, along with the competitiveness to connect the metropolises Tallinn–Riga–Kaunas–Warsaw–Berlin by fast and eco-friendly railway transport traffic.

PLH receives the award for the Rail Baltic  project. PLH partners Søren Mølbak and Steen Enrico Andersen went to Riga to receive the award. Hear what they have to say  there
Video from awarding ceremony available there