Both towns and municipalities have some similar challenges even though Bauska is an old historic town and Aizkraukle was founded in the 1967 because of the Aizkraukle hydro power plant. Both towns are facing outmigration of young people and is searching for new ways to stimulate the economic growth.
The project manager in Zemgale planning region is Ms. Inga Berzina. The town planners Michael Fuller-Gee and Alf S.Johansen have experience from several projects and workshops in Eastern Europe as well as other countries.The international experts presented examples from how planning is conducted in Norway and internationally and the main principles behind the new urbanism. Michael Fuller-Gee presented many pictures and projects he and other planners and architects have developed and where results are good, even for smaller towns.
More conscious urban development was presented as one element of making the towns more competitive and vibrant. Partly due to the financial crunch in Latvia and partly due to a heavy trend of depopulation within the Baltic states the situation for smaller places in the Baltic is pretty difficult. Architecture and town structure can not solve all problems but can play one important role in a new development strategy. Both towns have many valuable and nice qualities. And they are not extremely far from the big city Riga. The challenge is to take advantage out of this and at the same time reach out to the next generation. Is it possible to create vibrant and competitive small towns at the Latvian countryside ?
The work groups explored the two towns and came up with good ideas for improvements. The workshop focused on the gates, the "town heart", waterfronts, commercial life location and options for new attractive housing within the town center. At the last day the proposals were received by political leaders from the local councils.