Riga Psychiatic and Narcology Centre (RPNC) and Sarkandaugava Garden
Sarkandaugava is post-industrial neighbourhood in Riga, full of culturally and historically significant landmarks and associated with contradictory facts and sensitive topics. This is the place where Riga Psychiatric and Narcology Centre (RPNC, the oldest psychiatric clinic in Baltics, is located. The task of the project was to reduce stigma and fears that are still associated with psychiatry – this complied with mission of RPNC. The target of the project was to create a healing garden.
Leitmotiv of the concept – motif of the folk song “Going Through the Sivern Grove” – it is a metaphor about life - while living, seeing, noticing and using the possibilities given, at the end of our days, we can reach the enlightenment. Silvern Grove – are both possibilities and care offered by doctors, nurses. It is a story about the Future Garden – ready to give for your mental, social, physical recovery. The concept of 9 gardens/spaces based on Latvian cultural heritage – the symbol of sun rite which reflects flourishing, decline and renewal in life cycle was created. Placing sun rite scheme on territorial plan – existing elements and future usage structure blended in one harmonious space.
In May 2014, art curators contacted RPNC Board about possibility to use the old corpus for unusual exhibition before the building was closed for reconstruction. They invited artists who had some – direct or indirect connection with RPNC in their past. Some of them rejected saying that their connection to this place was too painful, too private. Others were motivated by this direct bond. After curators heard about the garden development concept, the idea about Garden being a central motif and binder between art expositions was fast and natural. In July 2014, a very emotional exhibition “Sarkandaugava – Garden” blossomed. 9 “garden rooms” dedicated to Zelda Fitzgerald, Vincent van Gogh, “a cousin”, and others, flourished in the old chambers. Works of art therapy patients were also exhibited.
After the exhibition the plants from old chambers were placed in Future Garden and patient chambers. By September 2014 – at the 190th anniversary of RPNC, the first stage (entrance nod) of the concept was realised.
Entrance nod is designed according to 9 healing garden principles. The base of the healing garden concept – symbiosis of Sarkandaugava and RPNC identity, entrance and representation. The chosen plants are herbaceous plants with white (purity, soul, revival) flowers attracting butterflies - the symbol in RPNC logo. The garden starts bloossoming in early spring and continues until late autumn not losing its beauty in the winter.
Exhibition curators Kristine Zelve, Ieva Sture (NGO “Domu Zime”), Silva Bendrate (RPNC)
Artists: K. Bicane, G.Strautmane, R.Jansone, M.Kalsers, I.Sture and patients of RPNC and Ilguciems prison
Exhibition garden exposition part: Landscape architect: Ilze Ruksane
In construction participated landscape architects and interns: Ieva Dimante, Sandra Sarkanbarde, Maris
Bushs, Kriss Smildzers, Ugis Volkovs, Kristaps Dimants, Kriss Karnitis
Authors: Spatial development and public space regeneration concept and entry nod design: Landscape architects: Ilze Ruksane, Ieva Dimante. Consultants: ergotherapy specialist Ieva Langmane, horticulture therapy specialist Yvonne Kiefelyne (Austria), traffic organis
Photo Credit: K.Madjare, I.Sture, L.E.Ruksane