Custodian of the masterplan for London’s 2012 Olympic Athletes’ Village and surrounding area of Stratford, Fletcher Priest, has been recognised in an open competition for another urban centre in Riga, Latvia this week.

The London-based firm received first prize for its design out of 1,000 entries.

The 46ha centre, on the left bank of the Daugava River adjacent to the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, will be used as a base to extend the Riga city centre across a further 206ha space.

The designs include a new railway station, transport interchange and network of public streets, squares, council headquarters, housing and business developments.

Fletcher Priest’s director of urban design Jonathan Kendall says the design had to take into account the history of the area – Fletcher Priest will work closely with Riga officials to ensure the entire project takes into account all sensitivities.

“We have tried to create a new urban environment that responds with sensitivity to the contest and climate of the city while at the same time establishing a new identity and series of places with which the future occupants can be proud,” Kendall says.

Riga is considered to be the Art Nouveau capital of the world.

Riga City Architecture Bureau Janis Drop says Fletcher Priest showed a great deal of urban planning discipline in the submission, as well as an understanding of local traditions.

A need for transport routes and modern infrastructure spurred the ambitious project as well as growth in the city council itself.

By Penny Jones