If you aim for changes – start from your own, initiate action and do-it-yourselves. School needs a new, active playground? You can build it together with the help of parents and kids. Entrance to your home seems bleak and cold? Grab a can of bright colours and re-paint it! Space you are living in does not fit your everyday scenario? It is never too late to take action and start changing it little by little. All you need is initiative, careful listening, good community spirit and some impulse from outside, to launch a never ending do-it-yourself process. Inspired by this idea and full of summerish energy, students from VGTU Faculty of Architecture and several German schools, lead by tutors from Germany and the Netherlands started to take action. Premises of VGTU Faculty of Architecture, Vilnius ‘Versmė’ Catholic Gymnasium school yard and inner spaces of Liepkalnis high-school, M.K.Čiurlionis art school, S.Daukantas pro-gymnasium, ‘Minties’ gymnasium – these were the target spaces where changes started to happen. Two weeks of creative and construction process together with the communities – that was the program of ‘Architectural workshop’ – autumn semester study module at VGTU Faculty of Architecture. During the workshop students experiment and expand the boundaries of architects’ profession. Working together with communities, they improve city’s public spaces in various scales, on theoretical as well as on practical basis.
‘DIY Rapid Implementation Workshop 1:1’ – colourful entry to Vilnius Old-town Campus
Space of the university often becomes a second home for its students. There, young people, spend most of their time learning, but not only that: friendships for life, extraordinary ideas, unforgettable, precious moments of life happen between the walls of their alma matter. Every year, step by step spaces of former count Tiškevičiai palace, at the Vilnius old-town, where Faculties of Architecture and Creative Industries are residing, become more cozy, more functional and exiting. It is happening with the help and innovative ideas of the students. A year ago, during the annual Architectural workshop in autumn, 3rd year Architecture students have designed and constructed (by their own hands!) a playful and colourful wooden house which stands at the inner yard of the Faculty. It is used for student gatherings, lunch breaks and as an event scene. In spring, seats and benches from wooden pallets appeared in the yard – they were results of student competition. This autumn, students’ workshop, lead by architect from Berlin Slavis Lew Poczebutas, focused on shabby looking entrance of the palace. While staff of the university discuss how to re-organize the entry points and balance the movement between two Faculties, students’ put their ideas and attention into distinguishing the entrance itself. The walls and ceiling of the entrance became Bauhaus-style inspired mural. Lightning, complementary to the drawing, was also installed during the workshop. Person entering this space experiences reality, completely different from Vilnius Old-town. Like last year, when building the house, do-it-yourself DIY working model was chosen. Architecture students suggested bunch of ideas, from which the best one was picked, afterwards implementation technology was carefully studied and finally the idea was realized. During this workshop the aesthetics of entrance space were visibly upgraded – walls and pavement were fixed, flattened and painted. But not only that – foreign and Lithuanian students, who had barely known each other before, united into a strong and solid team, they are proud of their job and became responsible hosts of the spaces they use everyday.
Creative playgrounds PLAY EAST! at the school-yard
School and parents’ community plays an important role in developing school environment. It is clear that community knows the best, what are their aims, expectations and dreams. So it is always very effective to let the initiative and ideas flow from those who will be the actual users of the results. On the other hand, sometimes, for positive changes to happen, one needs just a slight push from outside. For example – from architects, which are constantly expanding the boundaries of their profession. International summer school for architecture students – workshop PLAY EAST! had an extensive team of architecture professionals and community members. It was a collective work of baladilab (architects-curators Barbara Pampe, Vittoria Capresi, Carla Schwarz, Leonie Weber and Melanie Miglė Kundrot) and VGTU Faculty of Architecture together with students from Vilnius and several German architecture students, pupils, teachers and parents from Vilnius ‘Versmė’ Catholic Gymnasium. Two weeks of workshop was a unique opportunity to prove the power of ‘bottom-up’ initiatives. Gymnasiums’ aim was to make school yard a more active zone, students wanted to develop their ‘soft-tactics’ skills, while working in multi-cultural team and their construction and design skills working in scale 1:1, creating real architectural objects, baladilab team wished to use their huge expierence in ‘learn-move-play-ground’ program, dedicated to improvement of school playgrounds with the involvement of school community and students from the start till the implementation. All these concerns united in summer school-workshop ‘PLAY EAST!’. Workshop started with an intensive two-day mini workshop ‘My Dream Day’, where pupils and teachers, assisted by students and curators created physical models representing their Dream day. Models told various stories – about a journey to Venus, where everything is different and similar at the same time, about traps to wild animals, about observation tower, cozy homes full of clouds, challenging roads and many others.Colourful collage of dreams and adventures later became essential keywords. These keywords helped to define the particular atmosphere and needs expressed kids dreams. Five playgrounds were designed and in each of them different keywords could be de-coded: ‘The Wall’ is encoded with ‘observe and protect’, ‘The Tents’ represents ‘challenges and movement’, ‘Balancing beams’ – ‘lost and found’, ‘Hidden objects’ – ‘changing perspective’, ‘Bricks’ – ‘transition and changes’. Playgrounds were build by students with the help of school community and Builders Training Center in Vilnius, in one week. School yard, which was just flat and calm space before, instantly became a big, active, joyful playground, which could also act as an outdoor classroom. Opened in the middle of September, the playground is still being developed by the school community – outdoor classroom will soon invite for the first class under the sun.
‘Modern educational space’ – re-thinking architecture through teenager’s perspective
Education in Lithuania is undergoing through fundamental changes, so high schools needs to be transformed to satisfy new educational provisions and necessities of the pupils. In response to these recent changes, architectural workshop ‘Modern educational space’ is held for the second time in a row. The workshop, curated by architecture historian and researcher of educational architecture dr. Dolf Broekhuizen (Rotterdam, NL), focused on the quality of physical environment of the schools. The workshop is organized for the second time, last year it focused on educational spaces of primary schools and investigated five schools of standardized designs situated in Lazdynai district in Vilnius. This year the issue of high schools’ physical environment was put into the spotlight, with the motto of the event: ‘let’s make a school suitable for teenagers’. For the first two week of September, architecture students acted as socially responsible architects, visited and analysed schools of different concepts and from different times (Bezdoniai ‘Saulėtekis’ high school, built in 1937; Žygimantas Augustas high school in Vilnius, built in 1985; Vytautas Didysis gymnasium in Vilnius, built in 2005; Balsiai pro-gymnasium, built in 2011; just recently built Valdorf school ‘Žalioji mokykla’ in Skirgiškės), students also had lectures of education professionals and researchers of educational architecture. Later on they analysed four Vilnius schools in detail (Liepkalnis high school, M.K.Čiurlionis art school, S.Daukantas pro-gymnasium and ‘Mintis’ gymnasium), made historical, architectural, spatial and functional research, interviewed pupils, teachers and other school staff. Young architects highlighted the most important aspect of each school, therefore formulated a concept of possible change, i.e. ‘space intrusion’, ‘let the sunlight in’, ‘rebirth’, ‘let the forest into the school’ and proposed various scenarios for their implementation. The result of the workshop is multiple. Architecture students had a chance to develop their creativity in real and constantly changing space, they also had a chance to observe, investigate and conceptualize changes of existing buildings. Public impact of such event is no less important: the problem of physical environment of the schools is actualized, attention is drawn to certain schools, where educational spaces do not satisfy demand of contemporary school, specific needs of teenagers at school were also addressed. But the most important achievement of all are architecture students’ creative ideas and innovative proposals, how to build up attractive environment for teenagers, which would foster learning, participation and collaboration.
All the workshops are part of VGTU Faculty of Architecture autumn semester studies module ‘Architectural workshop’. Workshops took place in Vilnius from 1st September till 14th September. The events were generously supported by:
Creative playgrounds ‘PLAY EAST!’ workshop: DAAD German Academic Exchange Service, Goethe Institute, Partners4Value, Builders Training Centre in Vilnius (Vilniaus statybininkų rengimo centras), SC ‘SKV’: representative of ARKO building blocks, MITTO building mixtures and other products, Würth Lithuania, JSC ‘Eituma’, Caparol.
‘DIY Rapid Implementation Workshop 1:1’: Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania.
‘Modern educational space’: Netherlands Embassy, Partners4Value.