The Workshop is part of the YARDS OF MIND Competition for the concept of the yard shared by the St. Virgin Mary the Comforter Church and the European Humanities University in Vilnius.

Competition is organised by the Vilnius “Actors of Urban Change” (a coalition of organisations: Performative Design Association, Xwhy / Agency of Understanding (former Homo Eminens), and Ministry of Interior of Republic of Lithuania) in cooperation with the EHU Laboratory of Critical Urbanism. It is part of Actors of Urban Change project “Co Creation of space strategy for the Church of St. Mary the Comforter”.

Location: St. Virgin Mary the Comforter Church (Savičiaus str. 15) and the European Humanities University (Savičiaus str. 17)

Church and University are among the oldest powerful institutions, impacting the ways people make sense of themselves as parts of wider collectives and of humanity generally. In the course of digitalisation both institutions have to marry their commitments to the universalistic thinking and worldview with the emerging de-centralised environments of knowledge creation and sharing. Besides both have to marry their own long established notions of inclusivity with practices of transparency now crystallising in digital environment. Such attempts promise to be best articulated, as well as implemented in the most grounded way, when they are localised; as well as when they involve participation of all possible stakeholders and users of a particular location. Growing value of multi-functionality, flexibility and participation oriented approaches in urban design provides an exciting perspective to deepen understanding of University and Church as site-specific processes of production, negotiation and sharing of knowledge about the world among various individuals, groups and institutions with their different interests, life rhythms and expectations. 

Competition for the concept of the shared yard by the Chapel of Our Lady of Consolation and the European Humanities University is a laboratory to generate notions and practices of co-presence of Church and University beyond their walls in the context of one of the most active Vilnius streets for evening economy and tourism. Infrastructural unconventionality of these two institutions only encourages thinking ‘outside the box’ about their repertoires of presence in the public. In recent history Chapel of Our Lady of Consolation served as storage divided into floors for decades of Soviet occupation; and was consecrated and opened for masses only in 2018. It belongs to the Ministry of Interior of Republic of Lithuania and is turning into multifunctional space with the operating Chapel. European Humanities University was initially opened in Minsk in 1992, but then has been shut down by Belarusian authorities for political reasons in 2004. It was kindly welcomed in exile in Vilnius since 2005 and had to re-invent itself both in infrastructural, political and cultural terms. From 2018 it is operating in the former premises of Augustinian monastery. Both buildings date back to the end of 18th century. 

The Competition organisers invite teams of applicants to address and critically reflect on one of two (or on both) main agendas of the Yard future functioning: 

1) Transparency / safety relations. How to both make a neighbourhood safe and keep heterogeneous? Which tools for safety and degrees of transparency are appropriate for a functionally diverse neighbourhood (religion, education, evening economy, residential, etc.)?

2) Transparency / knowledge relations. How are Church and University re-defining their spatial and informational boundaries in the course of digitalisation? Which tools for embracing wider world and degrees of transparency would work for them without risk of losing one’s mission? 

Competition submissions are expected to propose multifunctional and temporally flexible concepts of Yard usage – sensitive contextualisation of the concept regarding time of the day, day of the week, and season of the year will be considered a particular advantage of the proposal. Those concepts of Yard usage have to be strengthened by arguments of how consensus among the location’s stakeholders and users regarding Yard design is to be achieved – Church’s community; Ministry of Interior of Republic of Lithuania; Savičiaus street residents, evening economy entrepreneurs, as well as evening economy customers; EHU community. 

A submission format: up to 600 words of explanatory text, 5 maps, and 8 photos/collages (in one pdf file) + CVs of all team members (in one pdf file). Submissions are to be sent to

Eligibility: competition is open for the teams of students of all levels, as well as for early career stage practitioners (under 30). 

Deadline for submissions: Friday, May 24

Competition winner’s prize: 500 euros. Besides, all shortlisted candidates will get prizes from partnering organisations.

Competition Timeline: 

Saturday, April 13: Competition launch (St. Virgin Mary the Comforter Church, Savičiaus str. 15)

10:30-10:45 Presentation of the Competition Call
10:45-11:45 Roundtable with all the parties of the Actors of Urban Change (Vilnius) and invited practitioners. Moderated by Siarhei Liubimau (Laboratory of Critical Urbanism, EHU)
11:45-12:00 Coffee break
12:00-12:30 Q/A session led by Dovilė Gaižauskienė and Žemartas Budrys 
12:30-14:00 “Interaction through movement” bodily exploration of the yard and building led by choreographer Ieva Ginkevičiūtė (Performative Design Association).
14:00-14:30 LUNCH
14:30 – 15:30 Summary of the day activities. Sunday, April 28: 18:00 Meeting with the Church community. Organized by the Actors of Urban Change team (St. Virgin Mary the Comforter Church, Savičiaus str. 15)

Monday, April 29: (EHU, Savičiaus g. 17)

12:00-12:45 – Lecture by Siarhei Liubimau (Laboratory of Critical Urbanism, EHU) “What is politics of scale in urbanist action research?”. Comment by Andrei Vozianov (EHU and Minsk Urban Platform) 
13:00-20:00 Workshop “City in Perspective of Science and Technology Studies” by Iryna Lunevich (Laboratory of Critical Urbanism, EHU) and Siarhei Liubimau (Laboratory of Critical Urbanism, EHU) 

Thursday, May 2: (EHU, Savičiaus g. 17)

17:00 Lecture by Dalia Čiupailaitė (Vilnius University) “Uses of Photography in Critical Urban Studies”. Comment by Benjamin Cope (Laboratory of Critical Urbanism, EHU) 

Thursday-Friday, May 9-10: (St. Virgin Mary the Comforter Church, Savičiaus str. 15) [timing to be agreed]

Consultations with Church community, Ministry of Interior of Republic of Lithuania, Savičiaus str. evening economy entrepreneurs, Savičiaus str. residents, European Humanities University. Organized by the Actors of Urban Change team. 

Saturday, May 18: (St. Virgin Mary the Comforter Church, Savičiaus str. 15)

15:00 Lecture and excursion by Indrė Ruseckaitė (Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and Architecture Fund) “A Church is not a Church: On Secularised Religious Architecture in Vilnius under Soviet Rule”. Friday,

Friday, May 24: Deadline for Submission of final projects to

Tuesday, May 28: announcement of shortlisted projects

Friday, May 31: 

17:00 Public presentation of final projects, announcement of the winner team (St. Virgin Mary the Comforter Church, Savičiaus str. 15)