Mapping Visaginas / Sources of Urbanity in Post-industrial Cities
Date & Place: 20.9. – 3.10. 2015, Visaginas, Lithuania
Organization: Laboratory of Critical Urbanism
Partners: Archfondas.lt, Herder Institut & EHU’s Center for German Studies
Support: German Academic Exchange Service DAAD / Program GoEast
This Summer School is organized by the European Humanities University’s Laboratory of Critical Urbanism in order to bring together students from Germany, Belarus and Lithuania in a two-week course on mapping social practice in relation to the built environment of the Lithuanian post-industrial town of Visaginas – a former satellite of a nuclear power plant erected in 1975. The school will be composed of a mix of lectures, seminars, excursions and supervised fieldwork, during the course of which the students will be guided in the process of how to research the social and spatial relations of contemporary Central- and Eastern Europe. The product of the students’ work at the school will be to create an exploratory mapping project of a particular dimension of Visaginas and to develop a scenario of its future development.
In many respects Visaginas can be taken as a showcase of the risks involved in the transition from a town reliant on an external top-down allocation of resources and work force, to a town compelled to survive in a competitive environment of a multilateral and multi-scalar determination of resources and workplaces. The urban structure and services of Visaginas were planned and built from scratch in the context of the short-term economic abundance related to the project of the adjacent Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (1975-2009). For this reason, Visaginas was considered to be one of Soviet Lithuania’s best examples of a centrally planned mono-functional urban unit, highly successful in terms of architectural decisions, quality of living and human capital. From the 1990s – due to the gradual shutting down of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant as a consequence of Lithuania’s EU accession, largely determined by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 – the town has stopped growing, with concomitant social phenomena of growing unemployment, dwellers’ anxiety about the future and around 20 percent population decline.
More info > CfP Sources of Urbanity – Mapping Visaginas