Lielie kapi koki un zied  zielziedītes

Riga City Council has announced an international architecture competition to develop a vision for the preservation of the value of the Great Cemetery and the development of the infrastructure of this site.

The international competition aims to gather creative ideas and proposals for how to respectfully preserve the burials, and other cultural, historical, and natural assets within the Great Cemetery for future generations, how to implement conservation and sustainable development measures at the site, and how to use the potential of the existing green infrastructure as a biodiverse and unique European historic landscape. Another goal is to improve the quality of the urban environment and to make the Great Cemetery accessible to the guests and residents of Riga.

The main objectives of the competition are to produce a functional layout and zoning plan for the preservation and restoration of the existing cultural, historical, and natural assets of the Great Cemetery that is appropriate to its urban context, the arrangement of traffic flows, the parking solution, and accessibility. There are also plans to get a plan and design for the network of footpaths within the cemetery, a plan for the clean-up and maintenance of the green spaces, and a design for the outdoor facilities and navigation sign system.

‘The Great Cemetery is and will remain a cemetery, but it is also a park, and will remain so. Given the people buried there, it can additionally function as a kind of a museum. The ancestors of many people in Riga lie in the Great Cemetery. In view of this, developing and improving the Great Cemetery is a very difficult topic, and with the competition, we hope to find creative and respectful solutions,’ Gunārs Nāgels, head of the Riga Monuments Agency, explained.

‘Riga’s Great Cemetery is a much revered necropolis, a remarkable collection of memories of the dead, of art and greenery, and is one of the many victims of the Soviet regime. This place where generations of people of Riga hoped to find peace was subjected to continuous demolition, destruction of graves and monuments. Various prior efforts aimed at restoring the Great Cemetery were sporadic, uncoordinated, unable to stop the decay and start a comprehensive restoration. We need a comprehensive, complex, and scientifically sound understanding of the state of the Great Cemetery and its long-term fate in the future. The competition is to make such an assessment and provide us with a concept and proposals with specific measures for the care and restoration of the burial sites, monuments, chapels, and greenery,’ Imants Lancmanis, creator and founder of the Rundāle Palace Museum and public expert of the competition, said.

‘The Great Cemetery is a big joint project for all of us. In recent years, we have made headway in terms of researching the Great Cemetery and examples of successful restoration. Riga’s citizens are waiting for us to clean up this special place of memory, history, culture, and nature in its entirety. The international sketch competition is our next step towards saving the Great Cemetery and making it better. We need to work decisively, but with great reverence and respect,’ Rita Našeniece, head of the Riga City Council Tangible Cultural Historic Heritage Commission, emphasised.

The total prize fund is 30,000 euros. The winner of the first prize will receive 15,000 euros, second prize 10,000 euros, and third prize, 5000 euros.

The sketches must be submitted at Torņa Street 11, Riga, by 17:00 on 5 April 2024. The competition is open, and will be deemed to have taken place if at least three sketch offers are submitted to it within the deadline. Interested participants may inspect the competition site on 25 January 2024, at 12:00.

The jury for the sketch competition consists of ten members: chairman of the jury, head of Riga Monuments Agency Gunārs Nāgels, head of the National Cultural Heritage Administration Juris Dambis, architect, acting head of the Cultural Heritage Conservation Bureau of the Riga City Council Urban Development Department Viesturs Brūzis, landscape architect for the Riga City Architect Service of the Riga City Council Urban Development Department Arnita Verza, architect, Riga City Council Urban Development Department expert for Riga Historic Centre UNESCO World Heritage management planning affairs, Aigars Kušķis, landscape architect, representative of the Council's Monuments Board, representative of the Latvian Association of Landscape Architects Ilze Rukšāne, architect, representative of the Latvian Association of Architects Artūrs Lapiņš, landscape architect at ‘Rīgas meži’ Ligita Tomiņa, architect, planner and community specialist from Denmark Tiina Saby, and certified architect and board member of the Latvian Association of Architects Dace Kalvāne (non-voting secretary of the jury commission).

The experts involved in the competition include Dr. art. h. c. Imants Lancmanis, author of the book ‘Rīgas Lielie kapi’ (Riga Great Cemetery) Juris Millers, Brasa Neighbourhood Association representative Laima Letiņa, ‘Labie koki’ management board expert Edgars Neilands, head of the Riga City Council Tangible Cultural Historic Heritage Commission Rita Našeniece, and head designer of Riga Evelīna Ozola.

More information about the competition can be found on the website:, which also includes the competition’s documents, and on :

Information prepared by: Aira Ancāne, Project Coordinator at External Communication Division of Riga City Council, e-mail: