JUST Sleeping District? Lazdynai for Lunatics

JUST Sleeping District? Lazdynai for Lunatics is the practical element of the course “The Production of Space in the Digital Age” on the Masters of Critical Urban Studies at the European Humanities University in Vilnius. The course explores both the potential that digital mapping technologies offer for critical studies of spatial issues, and also considers how digital technologies are impacting on ways of perceiving, managing and experiencing spaces.

The entry point for the project was the idea that what marks the difference between socialist and post-socialist urbanisation is a diversification and multiplication of the contexts in relation to which the district functions. Within this transformation, digital technologies play a complex and variegated role, just one of which is to dissolve the boundaries between spaces of work and those of rest. Thus, what we have tried to do, using a mix of online research and field-explorations in the district, in combination with a performative excursion around Lazdynai, is map a series of plots through which to understand more fully the contexts in which today’s Lazdynai works.

Booklet has been presented at Tallinn Architecture Biennial 2013

L for L_preview_first page

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JUST.Research_Urban decoding_LAZDYNAI fieldwork_part 2

Graffiti is a very important part of life in Vilnius. You can hardly find a place without graffiti in every district. Lazdynai is not an exception; it’s a significant example of using graffiti in the space of the city.

There are many underground passages in Lazdynai, and they are full of graffiti. Here is an interesting example of stencil graffiti – the Mona Lisa combined with the Masons’ symbol. This graffiti was also met in the other parts of the district, but the only combination with such a symbol was found in the underground passage under Laisves avenue.

The most common places for drawing are abandoned food kiosks or transformed kiosks. There are usually a lot of tag graffiti, but character graffiti also can be met. For example, here’s a character from popular internet comics “Cyanide and Happiness”, known for its grim humor. An important trait in this graffiti is the fact that the character “plays” together with the surrounding space.

mona liza potato

The second interesting part about graffiti in Lazdynai is the fact that a huge amount of graffiti is situated on the shorter sides of the building, which are usually turned to the streets. For example, there is graffiti drawn on the building with a memorial desk. There are still a lot of disputes, discussing whether it is right or not to draw in such places.


Last, but not least is the fact that graffitist in Lazdynai are striving to transform the surrounding space, covering boring grey surfaces with colorful and meaningful paintings. This represents a desire to reinvent the space, to make it more humanized and individual, less manufactured and monotonous.

on heritage

Report by Bogdana Pashkevich

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JUST.Research_Urban decoding_LAZDYNAI fieldwork_part 1

Our first excursion to Lazdynai was dedicated to understandings of micro and macro forces behind district decline. We applied semiotic reading of the urban environment, visited some common spaces and collected relevant objects for the future analysis.

Results of this fieldwork will be the base for critical cartography that aims to overcome stereotypes around periphery districts of Vilnius and emphasize socio-cultural values of the place.




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JUST.Locations_Introducing LAZDYNAI

In order to understand all complexities behind modernist housing areas of Vilnius from the Soviet times, we started a dialogue with local expert group Archfondas, particularly with Architecture (excursion) Fund section.

They provide us excursion maps from the series Perfect MicrorayonDIY that give comprehensive overview about history, typology and urban morphology of all so-called ‘sleeping districts’.

Special excursion map has been done for the district Lazdynai, winner of the Lenin Prize for architecture in 1974 (highest level award for urban planning in USSR) and model for the future ‘socialist design excellence’.

rajonai A3_excursion_Page_2 lazdynai_excursion_Page_2

download full size maps >print >DIY excursions

rajonai A3_2011 naujas_en

lazdynai_A3_2 (1)


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JUST.Interview_Ula Tornau (Kultflux)

Fate of Kultflux / by Anna Pozniak

…Kultflux for us meant “cultural flux” and a flux is a coming together of two rivers. Since from the beginning we wanted to do it on the flux of two rivers we decided on this name for our space…


…. I think the main problem was and is that the European capital of culture office encouraged us to apply for an infrastructural fund. Finally, somehow the people we were in touch with said that our project could only fit the part where they were financing solely cultural programs. If we had got at least some money for infrastructure and could afford one person working only on administrative things, everything would have been much easier…

…Maybe we were also doing things very chaotically and if we had had a clearer vision, things could have gone in another direction. You know, the architects always want to build and realize projects and we wanted to make a program. Nobody actually wanted to take care of the place…


…Department of (urban) development was really eager to support us. On the other hand, the department of household administration was far from these ideological things, so they saw us as an obstacle. Maybe because they perceived us just as some strange object near the river, which left trash after events…

…We didn’t have to pay rent, because we built the house ourselves. We paid for electricity and had quite big debts so we had to pay them out. We didn’t get sponsorship for infrastructure and had to pay for electricity, toilets, cleaning and things that we didn’t plan well. We got into minus…


…I don’t think that the fate of Kultflux is connected to the temporality of the “cultural capital” project. Although we got not a small part of our money from the “European cultural capital” office, we also got money from other foundations. Even then somehow we were not acknowledging that we were a “European cultural capital” project only…

…I think it needs some huge energy to start it running. It’s not enough to make some projects there. It needs to be a strong group of people who are really dedicated. People come but speak about one project, one evening, or want to rent it for a birthday…


read full text > kultflux_interview

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JUST intervention in Baltia Magazine

Short text about ‘Return of the Ghost’ intervention in the Baltia Magazine (Issue 16, Self-Organization)

Report by Aistė Galaunytė



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Tauro Ragas area_historical maps

Tauro hill maps  1916 / 1935 / 1942   / founded in Marburg archive


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Return of the Ghost

J.U.S.T 2 Vilnius / Critical Urbanism Days / 15-18.05.2012


How seven Mayors didn’t kill the Ghost? graffiti on the abandoned beer-bar Tauro Ragas, serve as a trigger to dig into complex past and question blurred future of the once important social space. Alternative visualization strategies has been practiced with students from EHU and activists from Archfondas, during the 3 days productive-camping at another underused cultural space KultFlux. Retracing famous sculpture of Tauro and bringing it back to original location in the sort of religious procession, opened up participative photo exhibition and invites people to rethink existing cultural developments embedded in commodification of leisure.

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J.U.S.T 1 _video

EHU, Vilnius, 14-22.05.2011

As a part of guest seminar Click-Click Urbanism, E-Skimming and Mapping, urban interventions in post-socialist context of Vilnius were critically examined and practiced in public sphere. Focus was on vacant modernist heritage and administrative ignorance that leads to dilapidation and real-estate speculations. Three spaces of leisure (beer bar, public amphitheatre and sport hall) have been culturally jammed with an aim to build long-term strategy together with local interest groups, cultural institutions and policy makers.

JUST 1 min University > new knowledge-exchange format

JUST 6.59 > fake opening ceremony of the social-agricultural club

JUST Ride-In > blending bike culture with cinematic experience

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Presenting JUST locations_Tauro Ragas_Vilnius

Beer restaurant “Tauro Ragas” / built-in 1974

Architects: Eugenijus Gūzas, Algimantas Mačiulis

Original function: the major beer restaurant in Soviet Vilnius (140 places + 180 places

in the basement + 90 places on the open terrace + 40 places in the banquet room).

Abandoned from the mid-2000s.

Current plans: Demolition. Building is not included in heritage list.

Owned by UAB ASSENT.


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