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Thermal power station complex (TEC)


In Andrejsala's north part, there exist three significant heritage structures, of which the most sizeable is the power station's complex, taking up more than half of the territory. The power station has ceased producing electricity and heat. No visitors are admitted at the moment, and a research project is underway, seeking ways of transforming and integrating it with the future Museum of Contemporary Art. An architectural design for the museum has been developed by the world-renowned Office for Metropolitan Architecture, a company led by Rem Koolhaas.


Andrejsala's former power station has provided inspiration for several art projects: Laboratory of Stage Arts created their TEC-1 multimedia performance piece here; Andris Vītoliņš came up with a series of paintings focusing on the apparatus located inside the facility.


A brief history of the power station


In the late 19th century, electricity had become more and more in demand, and the ‘lucid minds’ were thinking, researching and caring for the construction of a larger power plant in Rīga. Indeed, shortly after, there was erected a larger power plant – the Rīga City Power Plant, which was launched on 14 May 1905.


On 5 November 1901, the City Council granted a loan amounting to 8000 rubles for the design of a plant, which, at the initiative of the city council, was undertaken by the well-known German specialist in construction of power plants, the engineer von Müller of Munich. Architect K. Felsko developed the design of the plant building. The design provided for three stages of construction of the power plant. The first stage involved the construction of the main building, the installment of machinery and 170 kW boilers and the cable network in the downtown. The second stage involved the increase of machine power and construction of a network in Pārdaugava (the left bank of the Dauvava). The third stage envisaged the expansion of the machine power up to 5200 kW and installation of networks in the outskirts of the city. The initial stage cost about 1 million 450 thousand rubles. The construction of the plant building was completed in summer 1904, and the installation of machinery and boilers was begun in September. In summer 1904, a 22 km high-voltage network and a 48 km low-voltage cable network were mounted, and 57 transformer points were installed. Before the World War I, the total number of electricity customers increased twentyfold, and the total capacity of the transformers increased over tenfold, whereas the total length of the cable network – more than fivefold.


The World War interrupted the normal operation of the power plant. In 1915, the plant was forced to stop burning top class English coal and started using black coal from Donets Basin in Russia. It was not supplied in sufficient amount, either, and in 1916, the power plant started burning firewood. The power plant was evacuated in part in 1915 and 1916. In 1919, the power plant was not able to satisfy all the energy demands. It was as late as 1920, when some boilers were delivered, and in 1923, one 5300 kW AEG turbo generator was launched. The same thing took place in the 1930s: the reconstructed power plant was not able to ensure the increasing demand for electric power, as electricity started to be used not just in industry, but also in other sectors of economy and in households.


The 2nd World War brought a total devastation to Rīga's electricity distribution network. While being driven out of Rīga, the German military decided to demolish Andrejsala's power plant. Only the main façade of the building survived the wartime explosions.


Below is a timeline of events that took place during the soviet administration and after the restoration of independence:

  • April 10, 1946 – the first turbo generator launched in the renovated Andrejsala power plant launched;
  • 1960 – the nominal capacity of the power plant renewed;
  • 1962 – natural gas becomes an additional fuel to black coal used earlier;
  • 1965 – the other water heating boilers delivered from Czechoslovakia commissioned;
  • 1967 – the plant starts to produce and supply thermal energy to consumers; in addition to natural gas, black oil is used as fuel;
  • 1971 and 1972 – the other boilers launched;
  • 1974 – the power plant starts to operate in the economically profitable mode in the production of electric and thermal power;
  • 1987 – both boilers launched, the production of electric power stopped;   
  • May 31, 2004 – decommissioning date of the thermal power station;
  • May 14, 2005 – the 100th anniversary of the power plant celebrated;
  • May 4–6, 2006 – exhibition ‘Borders’ takes place as part of the international art project ‘Sense in place’.

NB: In-depth information about the power station's history is available at the Power Generation Museum (address: 19 Andrejostas Street, Andrejsala, Rīga).


Krasta railway station


One of the heritage-grade structures of Andrejsala's North End is the Krasta railway station, a building that the land-use planners have decided to preserve while transforming most of the surrounding area. It's a pale yellow brick structure, taking up the total area of 909.7 square metres (1,088 square yards) and standing prominently by the side of Andrejostas Street, so you would definitely notice the station when travelling along Andrejsala's north-south route, either on foot or by car.  


Records dating back to 1895 are the first to propose the construction of the station: this coincides with plans to significantly alter the railway infrastructure of the city along with a deliberation of the ways that Rīga's commercial port, located in what we know as the Eksporta Port district, could continue to develop. 


The Krasta station, then also identified as the rail-port, started operating in 1907, that is, after the completion of the RīgaElevators branch line, the length of which was 4.8 km (3 miles). At that time, the station's complex comprised several temporary storage buildings and one permanent 4-storey warehouse near the Daugava, but these have ceased to exist. The Russian Imperial government's funding for building the compound exceeded 2 million roubles.   


Besides, the Krasta station has always served the same basic function: the administrative processing of railway cargo. The data of the late 1800s and early 1900s show that about two thirds of all freight received in Rīga was meant for exporting outside Russia. To this day the Čiekurkalns–Krasta railway route is considered a strategic and national-calibre transport path, while the Krasta station's building appears to be well maintained. At the time of this writing, there are plans for researching more thoroughly the station's architectural and aesthetic aspects, because a restoration and conservation project would need to provide the means for bringing back the building's true architectural spirit and physical features. The Krasta station will thus return to its original quality.



Twelve-flat building in Andrejostas Street 1a


The building whose address is in Andrejostas Street 1a has a somewhat unique status, since it's the only enduring residential structure in Andrejsala. Its construction – amid the decidedly industrial environment that already had two now-defunct soviet-style "communal dwellings" and warehouses – began in May 1957 and was completed in February 1958, resulting in a new two-storey block of flats incorporating a total of 12 units.


The local directive for introducing this and three more residential buildings was based in a plan for meeting the housing needs of port workers without using territories elsewhere. When the Rīga port's building division constructed new homes in the city, some of them later had to be re-assigned for the use by the military and railway people while only about three fourths of the property were left in the jurisdiction of the port authority. The port's director felt that the re-distribution was illogical and, since he was in charge of Andrejsala, he ordered the construction of new housing units here, albeit without negotiating it with institutions wielding higher authority. As the construction was deemed illegal, the director was allegedly reprimanded and the plug was pulled on the remaining architectural initiatives. Thus, the building, which the current redevelopment plans of Andrejsala intend to preserve, had in fact emerged as the result of a paradox: its existence was legally recognised only after its completion.


Valentīns Ļevčiks (see picture 13) was one of the dockers who built the house, starting from the foundation and finishing with putting its roof on; he lives in Andrejsala to this day. According to him, the building has scarcely changed during the half-century of its existence, however the façade may reveal some signs of aging. At the time when it appeared, the port activity was quite energetic, and so were the old grain elevator, local railway system and power station. A couple of decades later, in the 1970s, more construction was embarked upon, creating the buildings near the railway station as well as the new and bigger port silo. For Ļevčiks, the favourite period in Andrejsala was the 1970s and 80s, when the port employed some three hundred dock-hands who had been brought in from Moldova, Belarus and Russia and were housed in the communal dwelling units; Andrejsala had a local shop selling key staples such as food and household items, thus practically eliminating the need to go out to the central area of Rīga for purchases.


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