Cities are formed around events and rituals and their processions. Agricultural, seasonal, social, political, commercial, religious, even mythological festivities - there is no living city without action or without program.
Humans want ritual. For rituals they build some of the most incredible structures on the earth. Over millennia, they organize their lives and built environment around them. Rituals give shape, form and meaning to social relationships, while human settlements become vessels for entire social assemblies - event cities.
As rituals give rise to architecture, so architecture in turn perpetuates new rituals. The Summer School explored this exchange in either and both directions. Moreover, it positioned itself among collisions of programs and spaces, in which the two intermingle, combine and implicate one another in the production of events.
The International Summer School took place in Cesis, one of the oldest towns in Latvia. It lies in Vidzeme Upland near the winding valley of river Gauja. In its historical development Cesis has gone through periods of growth as well as shrinkage. 800 years ago it rose as an important trade centre in Livonia, experienced a heavy decline in the 18th century due to wars, fires and plague, and managed to recover and prosper in later centuries. Its favourable position in road and railway network advanced economic development; scenic surroundings and rich historical heritage attracted vacationers.
During the Soviet era Cesis escaped the heavy industrialization that changed many other towns, instead it set an aim of becoming the cultural capital of Vidzeme region. Today Cesis, as most mid-sized towns in Latvia, is seeing its residents move away and neighbouring towns of Valmiera and Sigulda becoming more competitive with their sports, educational and recreational infrastructure. In response to the negative demographic trends Cesis puts emphasis on creating events that bring a lively buzz into its streets – festivals of arts, music and revival of medieval customs.
From July 27 to August 11 students were offered an intensive two-week programme of lectures, discussions and workshops, as well as sightseeing tours and parties. During the course, work was organized in five thematic studios with different methodologies, use of media and outcomes. The programme was conducted by an international team of architects and urbanists, representing both practice and academia.
The International Summer School became a part of Cesis Art Festival, entitled Experiment and Excellence in 2012. Students were given an opportunity to work hands-on with actual event creating and spatial structures that strengthen genius loci of Cesis by facilitating events and reveal new ways of perceiving and using the town.
Event City is an open-ended approach where the process of making architecture is as important as the architecture itself and the events within a space are as important as the space itself. The interventions aim to serve in the long term as life-size models of infrastructure for its social sustainability.
Riga Technical University and Contemporary Architecture Information Center in collaboration with Cesis Art Festival.
State Education Development Agency, Cesis Local Municipality, State Culture Capital Foundation, German Academic Exchange Service, Goethe-Institut Riga, Estonia – Latvia Programme project Local Artists for Regional Development, Vidzeme Planning Region, Dores Factory, ZAAO, Wolf System, JR Elements.