Vilnius is Changing (Again)
( 2019 ) Essay for Horizonte, Issue nr. 013, ‘Common’, language: English, 3500 words

Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, is a city in rapid development. Since the Lithuanian independence in 1990, it is, as a Post-Soviet city, making a change towards a city with Western looks integrating in the capitalist system. It has not been the first transformation of the city in which the urban fabric has been handled as scrap material to make place for new radical urban strategies. Just like the older transformations, the current urban change of Vilnius can be questioned. What future do the new urban projects propose? And what elements and qualities of Vilnius’ urban past does it discard?

As a byproduct of Vilnius Soviet past, the older context of the city is full of open and less defined spaces that are appropriated by surrounding residents and configured into communal gardens, shared playgrounds, informal pathways and open parks. Simultaneously, contemporary housing projects are being built in a rapid tempo, proposing a completely new identity with contemporary Western layout and looks. If architects, planners and developers ignore to a certain extent the older context of the city, then are existing socio-spatial qualities ignored as well in favor of a new identity?

By investigating different examples of contemporary housing projects we can understand what actual architectural and spatial differences they propose in relation to their direct urban environment, and what social activities they suggest within and around them. In contrast to those projects different examples of informal activities are examined to understand the existing urban qualities of Vilnius daily life, which might be overseen in the development of the city.

Published by Bauhaus Universität Weimar