* TOBACCO FACTORY / A MOMENT BEFORE IT ALL STARTED
Photos by Aija Melbārde - Tobacco Factory before reconstruction
Tobacco Factory quarter consists of several stand-alone buildings with the total floor area of 13 361 m2.
The Tobacco Factory was in operation for more than 100 years until it ceased to fulfil its production function in 2009. Since then the factory has been mostly abandoned with episodic culture events organized on the site.
At the moment the newly adapted Tobacco Factory serves as the temporary residence for the New Riga Theatre, while the theatre building on 25 Lāčplēša Street is being renovated. The work is due to be finished by the summer of 2019, so that the theatre could return to its original location starting from the season of 2019/2020.
It is planned to develop the area of Tobacco Factory as a new creative quarter, which would provide opportunities for interdisciplinary education, creative entrepreneurship, innovations and culture events. Adapted to the needs of the Latvian Academy of Culture, including fully developed classrooms, two stages for acting and contemporary dance classes, filming pavilion, library, administration office space and student dormitory, the quarter would also host the Creative Business Incubator and the Riga Film Museum.
The purpose of the Creative Business Incubator is to develop a sustainable and competitive entrepreneurial environment within the creative industries, as well as to encourage the development of new start-up businesses and job opportunities. This would also ensure collaboration between students of the Latvian Academy of Culture and the entrepreneurs, who would reside in the Creative Business Incubator.
The revitalisation and transformation of the Tobacco Factory has been implemented and funded within the strategic project “Revitalization of the surrounding areas of Brasa and the periphery of Riga centre”. The project was developed in accordance with the European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020, the programme “Growth and Employment”.
The overall funding available for the adaptation of the interdisciplinary centre for education, culture and innovation “TabFab” to the needs of the Latvian Academy of Culture is 6 026 786 EUR (incl. VAT). The revitalisation work is due to be finished by December 2021.
The Tobacco Factory “A.Maikapar” was established 130 years ago by two Crimean entrepreneurs- Abram Maikapar and Efim Shaitan. The Maikapar family actively participated in the social life of the Russian community and supported financially the Russian Drama Theatre and Russian universities.
At the end of the 19th century due to the success of “A.Maikapara” factory, Riga became the centre of the Russian Empire for manufacturing cigarettes. During the 1920s and the 1930s, it was the largest and the most advanced tobacco factory in Latvia and produced more than 2.5 million different brands of cigarettes, several of which were exported internationally.
After 1940, the factory has been operating under several names, including ‘Riga Tobacco Factory’, the ‘House of Prince’ and finally ‘Scandinavian Tobacco’ until its closing in 2009.
Buildings of the complex that have survived nowadays were built in 1912.