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Šnipiškės neighbourhood regeneration - developing community spaces ( experience)


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This presentation is focused on a toolbox for regeneration of public spaces in neighbourhoods, which was developed by team, while working on the participatory-action research in the wooden neighbourhood of Šnipiškės in Vilnius (Lithuania) in 2012-2013. It also provides an overview of the current situation in the area, which faces an increasing redevelopment pressure.

The wooden Šnipiškės is a multicultural neighbourhood with a rich historical background (wooden architecture of the end of XIX - the beginning of XX cen), unique structure of everyday life, huge recreational potential, and undefined future. A shrinking area of wooden houses lays just next to expanding skyscrapers area.

In 2o12 team moved to Šnipiškės, while the activities were initiated in the late April 2013. Our goal was to encourage participatory processes by regenerating empty plots (turning them into public spaces) and by launching collaborative initiatives in the neighbourhood.

The materials were presented in the number of meetings and conferences, including:
• Social Entrepreneurship Forum for Liveable Cities 2013 in Riga, Latvia.
• New Urban Topologies: Baltic Dimension, Färgfabriken meeting 2013, in St.Petersburg, Russia.
• Research seminar "Colloquium Vilnensis: Civil Society? Public Spaces and Memory", Center for German Studies, 2013, Vilnius, Lithuania
• Interdisciplinary international winterschool "Mapping Post-Socialist Urban Spaces in Vilnius: Lazdynai and Šnipiškės", 2014, Vilnius, Lithuania

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Šnipiškės neighbourhood regeneration - developing community spaces ( experience)

  1. 1. PhD, urban anthropologist, art-activist NGO “”, Vilnius, Lithuania Photo: J.Narkūnas / jL. / S.Sadzevičiūtė Drawings: J.Narkūnas / T.Umbrasas Developing community spaces in Šnipiškės neighborhood: participatory practices
  2. 2. The wooden Šnipiškės (Vilnius) is a multicultural neighbourhood with a rich historical background, unique structure of everyday life, huge recreational potential, and undefined future. Wooden architecture of the end of XIX – the beginning of XX century. group has been working on regenerating underused public spaces in Lithuanian cities since 2oo7. We apply participatory action research methods and launch sustainable alternative scenarios of use of the places and objects. It usually involves the development of urban design and art objects, which are used as a communication tool. In 2o12 team moved to Šnipiškės. Our primarily goal was to encourage participatory processes by regenerating empty plots (turning them into public spaces) and by launching collaborative initiatives in the neighbourhood.
  3. 3. • Šnipiškės: the right bank of the Neris river (Vilnius, 1892)
  4. 4. Šnipiškės: the right bank of the Neris river. Modernisation scenario (~since 60’s) Neighbourhood faces increasing redevelopment pressure, accompanied with residents’ uncertainty about the nearest future.
  5. 5. wooden part Wooden neighbourhood with traditional Kalvarijų market. Modern part with skyscrapers (offices, shopping mall).
  6. 6. CONDITIONS: - Ownership issues (1): private houses-public plots-private plots. - Ownership issues (2): in many cases houses are divided among several owners (e.g. a house divided into 2-3-5 parts).
  7. 7. Actors: - Residents: uncertainty for decades. Unsafety because of chaotic redevelopment of the neighbourhood (burnt houses, empty houses, underused territories). - Local (district) administration: multiple functions, limited resources and limited decision power, accompanied with knowledge of local issues and proficiency in district management. Recent decision of municipality is to eliminate this mediator. - Municipality: changing visions of the area, undeveloped dialogue with local community. Recent vision: development of high-rise offices and shopping quarters. Skansen (a model of open air museum) area without a detailed concept.
  8. 8. Residents’ perspective: • Burning wooden houses in period of 1990-200? • Empty wooden houses as a source of threat for the neighbours. • If there is no trust, sharing the same house with several families becomes unsafe when developer starts discussing sale with one of the owners. • Lack of investments in public infrastructure of the neighbourhood: bad roads and absence of playgrounds. No vision for the renovation of the sewing system. • Absence of the information on Skansen’s vision: how residents are included into the scenario?
  9. 9. Skansen territory: -lack of scenario & no public discussions; -growth of land taxes; -no current investments into the condition of the houses; - some of the houses are going to be “brought” to the territory from elsewhere.
  10. 10. Stigmatisation of the neighbourhood: Stereotype: the image of “criminal” district, “a slum” in the centre of the city. Tendentious marginalisation of the residents and their lifestyle for the recent decades in press: • Lazy and not interested in progress (“village like conditions”). • Greediness of the dwellers, who refused to sell the plots, while “waiting for millions”. • Drinkers, drug addicts, and criminals.
  11. 11. Historic background and ethnic diversity: • Wooden architecture: the end of XIX – the beginning of XX cen. • A district famous for ceramic workshops in XVII-XVIII. Ceramic stoves of XVI and XVII are found. • Most of the residents are newcomers after WW2. • Mix of at least three languages (local Polish-Lithuanian- Russian), elderly dwellers remember Yiddish. Roma community lived in the neighbourhood during Soviet period.
  12. 12. Ongoing ethnographic and urban researches in Šnipiškės neighbourhood: • Changing forms of neighboring in the Post-Soviet context (since 2o11, V. Anglinskas); • Participatory practices in the development of local community and regeneration of the neighbourhood (since 2o12, J. Lavrinec / J. Narkūnas); • Playgrounds: childhood territories and narrative structures (since 2o13, J. Lavrinec)
  13. 13. Process of regeneration: experience COMMUNICATION: Finding out potential hot-spots for interaction (mapping everyday routes in the district), developing tools (formats) for networking in the neighbourhood. Both online and offline tools are implemented. PLACEMAKING: Mapping the potential of “empty” spaces, turning underused spaces into public spaces in collaboration with residents. REPRESENTATION: changing negative image of the neighbourhood by creating collectively points of attraction and running open neighbouring events.
  14. 14. 2o12 – pilot explorations, 2o13 may-oct – actions:
  15. 15. COMMUNICATION tools: Notice-boards: two installed, one tuned. Open facebook-group “Šnipiškiečiai” for residents is launched.
  16. 16. NETWORKING: making contacts with residents, local administration, local cultural institutions, researchers, who have been working in this neighbourhood. Collaborating with designers and urban artists.
  17. 17. PLACEMAKING & REPRESENTATION: launching series of sustainable community art initiatives. • A tradition for neighbours picnics; • A set of typographic urban furniture for placemaking; • Street mosaic workshop, which brings together residents; • Street art gallery initiative (with a great enthusiasm from the garage community); • Excursions for communities leaders, experts in non-formal education, etc.
  18. 18. Placemaking: a set of light letters is used both as alternative mobile playground, a tool for a placemaking and a recognizable place sign. Concept:, designed: in collaboration with T. Umbrasas.
  19. 19. Some photos in the collage are shot by: S. Sadzevičiūtė The very first neighbours picnic, Šnipiškės, 2o13
  20. 20. Awareness raising intervention “Letter walk” at Europe sq. (a skyscraper area next to the wooden neighbourhood).
  21. 21. Street Mosaic Workshop: mosaic route
  22. 22. Participants: both residents and guests from other residential areas. Mosaics as a form of local memory.
  23. 23. Forms of participation: • Donating ceramic tiles • Taking part in creating mosaics • Inviting participants to expand mosaic area (bicycle shop). • Commenting the initiative and developing new ideas.
  24. 24. Results of these activities: • Net of mutual trust and a database of residents contacts; • Growing interest to the neighbourhood from mass media, Vilnius citizens, visiting experts and researchers. • Most of launched initiatives are sustainable because of their low-cost and will be continued in upcoming season. Welcome to Šnipiškės :) Šnipiškiečiai (facebook group) (facebook page and group)