In 2020 EASA will take place in Valga/Valka, which will be home for 500 architecture students during the two-week-long summer school.
Split in half by the border between Estonia and Latvia, Valga is far away from the capitals of both states. Valga has a unique approach to town planning, different from all the other shrinking towns in Estonia and Latvia. It is the first town with a master plan for a shrinking population. Instead of adding, they demolish. Concentrating all the needed and existing functions to the town centre, they are knitting the town smaller.
“The town should be adapted to the needs and wishes of the current population, to create a more attractive and greener, smaller and more compact town. Some buildings should be demolished, the city centre revitalized. The shrinking of the population can be stopped when you satisfy the needs of the people.”
The previous quote is by Jiri Tintera, the town architect and the mind behind the strategy, we would describe as “radically rational” planning strategy. Shrinking towns can be found anywhere in Europe, but there is a lot to learn from Valga's strategy. EASA 2020 will not look at Valga as a periphery of two countries but as the centre of the region. Seeing shrinking as not a problem, but a current situation. Instead of fixing, EASA will learn from its location.