Latvia, Cesis


when 25 July 2015 - 8 August 2015
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 675

The impact of human activities on the Earth's ecosystems has grown to such a scale that it can be considered a new geological epoch — the Anthropocene or the Age of Man. When hardly any place on our planet is left untouched, we especially value the remaining natural areas and strive for fresh air, clean water, luscious greenery and organically produced food. For the frustrated urbanite, a rural town seems to be the refuge, promising unspoiled nature and an idyllic lifestyle, as well as the basic amenities of a city.

The Summer School is going to take place in Cesis – a town located within the Gauja National Park, which is the largest protected natural area in Latvia. Its high biological diversity, varied terrain and natural water resources provide for outdoor sports of all seasons and traditional picking of mushrooms, berries and medicinal plants. Being close to nature is an essential part of the town’s identity.

What does a modern day Arcadia entail? Does it accommodate urban agriculture, water management, wildlife reintroduction, ecotourism, well–being of the body and the mind? Can we imagine giving up an urbanised territory to the forces of nature? Is today’s Arcadia economically and socially sustainable?

We are going to explore the picturesque and the utilitarian green areas both within and around Cesis: forests, parks, cemeteries, gardens, maintained greenery and overgrown plots. A site of particular interest is the valley of Pirtsupite, a small tributary of the river Gauja. It stretches through Cesis, being both a divide in the urban fabric and a green connector between neighbourhoods. We are going to read the landscape, decode the obvious and hidden qualities of the site, place it within a larger ecosystem and the collective memory, suggest strategies and design structures for public use.

Course leader

Programme director — Evelina Ozola
Managing director — Toms Kokins

Target group

Focus of the course is architecture, urbanism and design, but it also welcomes students and young professionals of related disciplines: geography, sociology, arts etc. Applicants should have finished at least one year of studies by the beginning of the course, be fluent in English and keen to work in groups.

Course aim

The Summer School is a possibility for students to test new approaches in research and design in an informal atmosphere, choosing a specific focus area to meet their interests: mapping and collecting data, designing and constructing spatial structures, interviewing and observing local residents, or developing visual representation skills.

Students will be given an opportunity to work hands–on with creating actual events and spatial structures that accommodate public interactions.

Fee info

EUR 675: The fee covers registration, tuition, accommodation, meals and social programme. Participants should cover their own travelling expenses and insurance.


A limited number of full and partial scholarships are available, provided by State Education Development Agency and the organisers.