Wednesday, 10 March 2021 13:43

Unleashing the potential of city planning through cultural activities

Written by  Let's communicate! & Emīls Rode & Mārtiņš Eņģelis, Danish Cultural Institute of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Innovative and creative urban planning - take a look at some examples from cities in the Baltic Sea Region that have worked together with the UrbCulturalPlanning project!


Cultural activities  contribute to the sense of place and identity in Vilnius, Lithuania

According to Dr. Jekaterina Lavrinec from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, the project focus in Lithuania revolves around typical challenges of the so-called “sleeping districts” (also known as microrayons or dormitory suburbs).

-The potential of such areas is huge. They have systems of open green yards providing walking routes for long distances and could contribute to health, growth of social inclusiveness, and biodiversity. They are also very much related to the sense of place and image of the whole district. Unfortunately, in Vilnius, such places for recreation and socialization are progressively taken up by chaotic parking, which derives from the rapid motorization of the Lithuanian cities, while communities and schools within the area are encouraged to fence, thus destroying the spatial links within districts, Dr. Jekaterina Lavrinec admits.

Drawing upon the methodology of cultural planning, the team of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University co-develops several cultural activities, games, and artistic interventions, which promote walking routes within the area and demonstrate the value of the green yards as public spaces. By cultural activities they also seek to contribute to the sense of place and identity of the chosen area and to promote the activities of residents, who add to the improvement of the areas – by fixing urban furniture, setting up small gardens by their houses, taking care of the animals, etc.  Many of the activities are arranged in cooperation with the students of the Faculty of Creative Industries, which has already included the urban cultural planning methodology in its Urban Studies.



- We value cooperation with the local artists who join the workshops and contribute to the vision of the district, emphasizes Ms Lavrinec.

- Cultural planning activities have inspired local creators to apply for new cultural projects within the area. It means that even after "UrbCulturalPlanning" is over, other related activities within the area will continue to grow. Also, the municipal administrative units - elderships - are very helpful in developing local activities. They accumulate local knowledge of the area and provide very practical insights and feedback. The cooperation with residents, creatives, university and the municipality are important for further social-cultural development of the area.


Experiences from Gdansk, Poland: Cultural planning process lays in trust

Natalia Brylowska, Head of Research and Development Department at City Culture Institute in Gdansk, Poland, elaborates on working together as a crucial element of the project

- The key to any successful cultural planning process lays in communication, cooperation, and trust. These are, at the same time, the most important challenges. To communicate clearly about what we are planning to do we need to speak to relevant stakeholders in different “languages”. The conversation must be open and include all actors with their specific background. This task is especially difficult during ongoing projects, emphasizes Ms Brylowska.

- Not to drown into doing things and moving forward but to remember to discuss and inform partners about our steps. This open communication can result in a deeper understanding and trust between actors involved. Building trust is especially challenging in Polish society where we have one of the lowest social trust levels in Europe. We are very lucky to have three diverse partners working together in Gdansk on implementing cultural planning. We combine different competencies and fields of action, but we share common values and goals, she explains.


UrbCulturalPlanning is an EUSBSR Flagship project, funded by Interreg Baltic Sea Programme, is a cross border partnership of 14 partners and 36 associated organizations in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and Norway. The project started in January 2019 and will end in the second half of 2021, with the Danish Cultural Institute as Lead Partner.

Read 1230 times Last modified on Monday, 15 March 2021 09:08