Skip to main content

Culture and Creativity

Valmiera: transforming asphalt into nature

Forest Park, a model of eco-conscious and inclusive rehabilitation.

Type of project :
Size of city/region:
Aerial view of sports park in Valmiera, Latvia.

Key facts

Architecture studios: Mind Work Ramps in cooperation with ALPS Landscape Workshop and Ceļu comforts Ltd.

Main sponsor: Latvia’s State Forests Jsc. And Municipality of Valmiera

Year completed:  April - November 2021

Total area: 1 1395 ha


  • 1st place in the "Sustainability in architecture, construction, design in the Baltics 2023", in the nomination "The most sustainable landscaping"
  • 2nd place in the "Landscape" category at the "Best Building of the Year in Latvia 2021" awards
  • 2nd place in the "Territory Improvement" category at the "Latvian Construction Year Award 2021" competition

City / regional background

Valmiera is located in northern Latvia, on the border with Estonia, in a region of lakes and rivers. The municipality has placed high-quality architecture and the built environment at the forefront of its development strategy, aligning with the sustainable development strategy of Valmiera county 2022-2038.  The city has also developed a sustainable energy and climate action plan until 2030, integrating initiatives aimed at flood risk prevention and the promotion of sustainable, climate-neutral construction.

The city lacked an urban space that catered to the interests and needs of its young residents, particularly those who embraced non-traditional sports and activities. The limited sports facilities and lack of amenities at the skate park led to conflicts and even vandalism. At the same time, the community sought a space for young people to engage in urban sports and activities, reducing social tensions and isolation. Thus, a new sports park became even more necessary.


Through active community engagement and careful consideration of resident preferences, the city revitalized a formerly deteriorated area into a vibrant contemporary and green park by converting an old and neglected outdoor ice rink. "The Forest" park for sports and active recreation meets the needs of the youth population by providing a modern urban space for urban sports. The new design includes a 170 m long cycling track, a spectator stand, a court, a playground, outdoor fitness equipment and a public drinking water tap. Facilities were tailored to cater to various groups, actively promoting interaction, unity, and a deeper connection with nature.

The chosen site was a vast asphalted area that contributed to the heat island effect during the summer and lacked amenities for visitors.

The new project aimed to create an inclusive and sustainable urban oasis featuring lush vegetation, localised rainwater management, promotion of eco-friendly mobility, aesthetically cohesive outdoor installations, efficient LED illumination, eco-conscious materials like pine bark mulch, soil conservation, enhanced amenities, and responsible waste management.

Видео за парк „Гората“

Видео на латвийски за парка във Valmiera

Criteria for high-quality (context, sense of place, diversity, beauty)

  • To gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges posed by the area and to anticipate the necessary infrastructure solutions, the municipality initiated a public opinion survey. Suggestions and feedback were collected from residents, all of which were considered within practical constraints and harmonized to shape the optimal development plan for the area.
  • The territory is designed to successfully accommodate and foster a sense of belonging for diverse social groups, including youth, children, families, individuals with mobility impairments, active sports professionals and beginners, as well as enthusiasts of active leisure.
  • The outdoor furniture was thoughtfully chosen to align with the city's character while ensuring durability. Plant selections considered Latvia's climate and urban conditions, providing varying foliage throughout the seasons. Tree types suitable for active areas were chosen, and safety was prioritized with leaf-conscious choices.

Governance and management

The project was overseen by the Valmiera City Council.

A working group of approximately six representatives from the Real Estate Management Authority, Urban Planning Department, and Municipal Management managed the project development within the municipality.

Currently, the maintenance and cleanliness of the park fall under the responsibility of the municipality, in collaboration with Valmiera Youth Center "Vinda." Park activities are organised in conjunction with the Municipal Sports Administration.

Budget and financing

The total budget of the project was €1 157 300.

57% of the total cost, were covered by Valmiera’s municipal budget, including the utilisation of a loan from the State Treasury.

43% of the total cost came from a donation from the State Forests Company (Latvijas valsts meži) earmarked for the creation of an educational sports and leisure area for children and families.

Transferable ideas

Tips from the city

  • Address the community needs and ensure the dignity of the action sports enthusiasts within the community.
  • Conduct annual citizens' survey on local development priorities and identifying citizens' expectations. Public involvement and participation are KEY for a successful project.
  • Integrate and mix new infrastructure with existing functional institutions.

Contact information

Contact the Valmiera municipality via email.