Diploma 2016 - "POST REGIME" by Goda Luksaite
REAPPROPRIATION OF ABANDONED COMMUNIST COLLECTIVE FARM SETTLEMENTS IN LITHUANIA
This project was awarded with a Distinction for outstanding quality by the diploma assessors.
Description of the project:
After the fall of Soviet Union and change of political regime in Lithuania, a number of places/spaces lost their relevance, some were left abandoned. The example of communist collective farms represents one of these situations. Entitled as ‘kolkhoz’ which in Russian is a contraction of ‘collective ownership’, they did not have many characteristics of a true cooperative – private ownership was nationalized and workers were supervised by the state. When the system collapsed, kolkhoz buildings were privatized, but most of them fell into oblivion. The project raises a question of how society could deal with buildings-leftovers and keep the cultural continuity after the regime has fallen.
Communist period is seen as a rupture, but also as part of history and collective memory. Maintaining cultural continuity and dealing with cultural trauma involves articulation of collective identity and memory connected to cultural artefacts – something that represents the past in the present. Vacant kolkhoz building becomes a tool to acknowledge/preserve part of history, unite community around the transformation of it and look into what it could become in the future.
The project consists of two stages – The Archive and The Focus. The aim of The Archive is to map 30 former kolkhoz towns in Kaunas region, centre part of Lithuania. It evolves into an online blog - digital network that connects the 30 towns. As a collaboration between the towns, the network becomes a living archive empowering communities to exchange ideas and resources. Each town provides an access to wifi and a living archive incubator where communities meet, generate ideas and share it within the network. The incubators are physical expressions of living archive and take shape as transformations of vacant buildings’ walls - a mediator between inside and outside – receiving, transmitting and expressing that the buildings are working as a catalysts on a macro level.
The Focus part is a transformation of vacant buildings in 3 selected kolkhoz towns. Each town is treated as a node where new initiatives are supported by the entire network of 30 towns. The aim of each transformation is to challenge the concept of collective(ness) and question what would gather people back together in the spaces that once was a forced collective. It is a bottom-up approach looking into how the communities can raise their local economy and how new initiatives coming from the society could expand into the unused building mass and surroundings. It takes the shape as a public space near vacant office building in Bubiai, community carpentry workshops in former culture house of Kriukai and organic fertilizer factory in abandoned barn near Vandziogala. By sharing reused materials from 30 towns, each transformation enhances existing potential of vacant buildings – light qualities, transparency, verticality, openness.
The project is an expression of several strategies for reappropriation of abandoned buildings and resurgence of cultural continuity. It is searching for possibilities within existing situations, empowering communities by connecting them and introducing new functions as catalysts while enhancing local qualities.
Archive of 30 visited former kolkhoz towns in Lithuania
First selected site – abandoned culture house in Kriukai town
Second selected site – surroundings of vacant office building in Bubiai town
Third selected site – abandoned barn near Vandziogala town
Light study of different roof openings, metal perforations and floor materials in Vandziogala barn
Axo view of Kriukai intervention. By opening the building up and creating transparency in different spaces, unused part of the building is transformed into community carpentry workshops.
Axo view of Bubiai intervention. Proposal is dealing with the surroundings of the building as a catalyst for new activities. It becomes an outdoor cinema screened on the wall, a temporary market which pops-up by opening up the translucent façade and a living archive incubator by inverting the wall into the building.
Section through living archive space in Bubiai. The intervention is designed from reused materials – leftover bricks and rubble from removed façade and slabs. As a part of strengthening the network, the benches for outdoor cinema are designed and built by other towns from local recycled materials.
Axo view of Vandziogala intervention. As a way to gather local farmers into agricultural collective and raise local economy, vacant barn is conceived as a space for factory of organic fertilizers produced from the cow dung.
Section through fertilizer factory production line in Vandziogala. The barn has special light qualities brought inside through the broken slab, transparency of spaces revealing the long body of the building, vertical wooden structure emphasizing the height of the roof. These qualities are enhanced by the design that behaves the same way as the building does.
Concept model representing different layers of stories, memories, models and flashbacks of society. Kolkhoz is one of them.
1:1 intervention in Bubiai. Public space around the vacant office building in Bubiai was challenged by screening projections on the wall of the building. It started with movies and ended with sketches of what the wall could become.
1:1 intervention in Bubiai that gained a ‘snowball effect‘ since the mayor of the town promissed to appropriate the idea, keep the tradition of open door cinema and local community got involved while arranging the screening.
Section through living archive space and carpentry workshop in Kriukai. The living archive space of Kriukai is designed as an extension of the wall and the continuation of the façade logic, connecting the building and the existing watch tower.