Growing and living together within new patterns of use

Lucavsala Island

The Lucavsala Island is located in the Daugava River in Riga. This island of about 150 ha is for a large part covered with an allotment garden complex of over 600 plots. As of today many of these allotment gardens are no longer cultivated. Some plots are reclaimed by a new generation of urban gardeners, many are being used as weekend and vacation spaces, and others are illegally occupied as spaces of residence. The allotment complex is under pressure of development. The tip of the island has been remodelled as an urban park, and the land adjacent to the park rezoned for high rise residential and mixed use development. This has led to mobilisation among some of the remaining growers to imagine an alternative future. These large allotment complexes, still present in close proximity to the urban centre, are part of the food growing infrastructure of the city and are an asset that other cities have long lost.
The participative design research of Sampling as part of the Urbanising in Place project explored development strategies in which the allotment complex would be maintained and its productive function intensified. Participants to the exercise discussed the possibility of hosting professional growers side by side allotmenteers. The exercise also looked into the possibility of clustering houses for farmers rather than building on individual lots, which has generally led to the trading of the productive for residential use. Building on the rich legacy of allotmenteering of socialist urban development, these exercises seek to articulate the conflict between the right to access growing spaces and the right to housing in collective patterns of use and move beyond the particular and fragmented interest of the entitlement to a singular plot (for growing and living).

Building Block: Productive Housing Estate