Project VIETOS (PLACES) is devoted to problem of inhabiting public spaces in living districts of Central and Eastern Europe cities.
Huge living areas (or so called “microrayons”) nicknamed “sleeping districts”, are main living quarters of most post-socialist European cities. They are usually homogenic, devoid of any other functions or necessary infrastructure needed to establish work-life balance.
Lazdynai district in Vilnius, Lithuania (built in ~1974) is taken as an example of such condition. First of all, it symbolizes the overall urban condition of the city, - according to statistics (as of 2004, http://www.stat.gov.lt/uploads/docs/Vilniaus_saviv.pdf), 89,2% of Vilnius population lives in multi-flat houses (compared to 61,2% in the whole country). Secondly, it was celebrated as a symbol of a true modernity (1974 Lenin Prize for architects). At the same time it can be considered as „unfinished“, - insufficient public infrastructure, poorly treated public spaces. Built as an exemplary district on a beautiful hillside, it contained about 144 five- and twelve-storey houses, 5 kindergartens, 4 schools, 2 shopping malls, a swimming pool and a cinema. Free plan layout provided airy yards, wide passageways and no private spaces.
The problems of Lazdynai are similar to those of any “sleeping district” in Vilnius, or mostly of any city in any post-socialist country.
The aim of the project is to propose improvement of public spaces, providing various (low-cost, community-initiated) scenarios. Project concentrates on 3 particular spots: 1) areas around living blocks; 2) two passages across the district; 3) underground passageway across busy street, close to stops of public transport. It also proposes a catalogue of elements, providing more functional variety.
First spot deals with the immediate surroundings of living houses. Since there is no separation of private / public spaces in the neighborhood, plots around houses are usually neglected. Various scenarios considering usage of these strips by people living here are foreseen.
Second spot(s) are two ~0,5 km length pedestrian inner passages across the district. One of them is treated as an active zone with playgrounds concentrating near high school. The other is treated as a park featuring non-formal community centre and zone for outdoor art installations.
The advantage of the third spot, the underground passageway, is its busy location. As it is underground and poorly lit, it is considered unattractive and unsafe. However, it can be used as small shopping street, supplemented with public facilities, such as outdoor cinema and indoor sports / arts / entertainment.
Possible solutions were worked out in an architectural workshop, and documented on a website vietos.org. It will also be used to engage Lazdynai community to react to the proposals and to comment on their needs. It is expected that the website would be a platform for dialogue and will be helpful for gathering various opinions.
Thus, website acts as a platform for on-going research.