Date & Place: 24.2. – 26.2.2015, Visaginas, Lithuania
Organization: Laboratory for Critical Urbanism, European Humanities University
Partners: Estonian Art Academy Tallin, Herder-Institute Marburg, Lithuanian Social Research Centre, Archfondas.lt & EHU Center for German Studies
Support: Deutsch-Baltisches Hochschulkontor Riga, DAAD
In the framework of this workshop we explore existing research on cultures of shrinking in post-industrial towns, with particular reference to the case of Visaginas. We wish to discuss how a variety of understandings of culture are and can be employed in the discussions of the future of Visaginas, as a specific example of the wider phenomenon of shrinking urban settlements in the context of the Baltic States.
Visaginas has undergone a radical transition from rapid growth under conditions of Soviet planned, mono-functional industrial development to dramatic shrinkage under those of a multilateral and multi-scalar competitive determination of resources and workplaces. The urban structure of Visaginas was planned from scratch in the context of short-term economic abundance created by the construction of the adjacent Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (1975-2009). For this reason, Visaginas is considered one of the best examples of a centrally planned, mono-functional urban unit in the Baltics, highly successful in terms of architectural decisions, quality of living and human capital. Because of the rapid Soviet mode of urbanization, the Visaginas population historically consisted of nuclear scientists, engineers, construction workers and their family members brought from the entire Soviet Union, while it was mainly the nuclear power plant and collectively constructed housing blocks that facilitated local belonging and enabled identification with place.
More Info > Cultures of Shrinking – Visaginas