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European Regional Development Fund
European Regional Development Fund

Lithuania – Vilnius – Šnipiškės

Urban area:

Šnipiškės district lays next to the city center, on the right bank of Neris river (area – 3.1 km2). Morphologically diverse, the district splits into 4 types of areas, which overlap: shrinking historical area of living wooden houses of the late 19th – beginning of the 20th century; developing business area of sky-scrapers, mainly offices; blocks of houses with shared public yards built in the 2nd part of 20th century, and recently accompanied with newer houses with closed territories; several streets of individual brick houses built in the 2nd part of 20th century.

Thus a density of population is uneven, with higher density in the area with the blocks of flats, a part which in post-soviet context is usually referred to as “sleeping district” (due to the idea, that the work and active life happens outside the area). However, shared yards between blocks of flats supposed to provide some recreational and social everyday activities. Within each district of this kind there are educational and cultural institutions for kids and youth, there are some social functions, such as public library, post office, schools, kindergarten, and usually non-formal educational center for kids and youth.

Public health services are being concentrated in two districts around Vilnius, so there is only private health services in this district. There is a growing number of mono-functional shops with parking. Small retail and repair shops, eating places are located alongside the main street (Kalvarijų str). However the perimeters of the blocks become too polluted and noisy due to the rapid motorization of the city and the everyday routes of the residents take place inside the blocks. Public transport connection is quite well developed here, and it takes just 20 minutes by public transport to get to the city center.

Population:

Aging population; Šnipiškės district has 19321 people (previous population census), with women 20% more than men; socially and ethnically diverse (Lithuanian, Polish, and Russian-speaking groups, new residents from Ukraine, India, Turkey). Growing density: 62 people / ha in 2001 and 142.9 people/ha in 2011.

Challenges identified:

While the suburbs and new housing sector in Vilnius are targeted by young families, so-called “sleeping districts” that were built in the Soviet period, turn into culturally excluded ghettos with aging populations and transit renters. The challenges are: lack of variety of functions, lack of working spaces within the district, lack of cultural activities especially for elderly people, lack of developed public spaces. Potential places for recreation, socialization are taken by the chaotic parking. The ecology due to the growing traffic is going worth: noise and air pollution.

Visions and aims:

Activation of social and cultural life / Building networks of mutual exchange between the residents and organisations present or active in the district / Activating public spaces.:

  • Social engagement of the local residents of various age groups initiating opportunities for networking, knowledge exchange, and cooperation.
  • Building interconnections between education and cultural institutions within the area;
  • Extension of the functions and activities within the area through a number of pilot projects;
  • Actualizing the value of the green spaces and engaging residents with the gardening activities;
  • Actualizing the value of walking and the importance of spatial links within the district;
  • Raising solutions for the motorization by testing a ground in cooperation with municipality;

Cultural planning approach:

  • Developing an urban game for actualizing the values and spatial links of the urban area: actualizing urban routes within the area; initiating a number of game-based exploration of the area (target group: kids, youngsters and adults);
  • Exploring the culture of small urban gardens in the area, connecting the gardeners, engaging schools with the potential of the green areas in the district (target groups: senior ladies gardeners, school kids and those interested in gardening);
  • Design-based prototyping a multi-functional platform for the “sleeping districts”, exploring the need in extension of the functions;
  • Creative prototyping of the solutions for the motorization, in coop with local residents, education organisations (kids and youth) and municipality.