Vilnius is a city that has been in constant change. So much so that some say Vilnius has no memory: it has gone through so many wars and rapid transitions of power that things don’t get passed from generation to generation. To this day, the city struggles with its identity issues, and with the relationship between authorities and communities, most of which are new and developing.
The St. Virgin Mary the Comforter Church in Vilnius’ Old Town has a history that reflects these movements. It was passed from hand to hand with different rulers: first Catholic, then Orthodox, then Catholic again. Then, during communist times, it was used for vegetable and meat storage. Today, it is public property, managed by the Lithuanian Ministry of the Interior.
“Vilnius is a threshold. A place where different worlds meet. It has the opportunity to develop into a very diverse city.” – Zemartas Budrys
Team Vilnius saw the abandoned church as a place that could address some of the challenges in their city – a lack of compassion and dialogue, lack of free public spaces connecting diverse cultural groups, and lack of spaces for creative and collaborative experimentation.
Through their project, they want to co-create a concept for the use of the church as a creative hub. To do this, they are engaging into dialogue with future users of the space, consulting with local communities, businesses, and the church community to mediate this co-creation process. The result: a sustainable strategy for the space that meets the needs and challenges of city, owners, and the community.
“To create more solid communities, we need places for communities to interact in a meaningful way. Places where people can be inspired to create and act without being ignored for being from the ‘wrong’ social class. Sharing, tinkering and prototyping, participating in self-sustaining structures evokes a feeling of belonging.”
Through activities, research and interactive presentations, the team hopes to organize fruitful and constructive exchange with the local community and relevant stakeholders on their vision for the church, the local issues of the area, the expectations of the state, and other pressing topics.