Lazdynai – a constructed spirit of the place?

Lazdynai_Orzikausko nuotr

Author Viltė Janušauskaitė[1]


 The classic of the Genius loci subject Christian Norberg-Schulz in his prominent work “Genius loci: towards a phenomenology of architecture” (1980) states that a classical place, which undoubtedly has its genius loci, is a medieval city. And on the contrary – “new”, i.e. modernism architecture is to blame for destruction of the spirit of a place and even its value, with a modern human believing that science and technologies are able to liberate him from belonging to a place[2]. These lines were written immediately after Lazdynai micro-district, fitting ideally the picture of de-placed environment that had been heavily criticized by C. Norberg-Schulz was built: monotonous houses without rich architectural elements, destroyed types of traditional spaces of cities – streets and squares. Much earlier, in 1923, the guru of Swiss and French modernistic architecture Le Corbusier (1887–1965) stated that “architectural emotion exists when work within us rings in tune with a world, the patterns of which we know, obey and respect them.”[3] Radical ideas of this architect became the base for modernistic architecture, they, although not necessarily directly, were pursued when engineering  the system of Soviet  building system and creating a residential place for being a social tool.

What message did the new district bring, which was built on the basis of architecture rules that had to reflect the new world, the laws of which could not be disobeyed? Lazdynai was the first district built in accordance with the new master plan on the right bank of the river Neris. At that time this district was called North West region. In 1967, the construction works commenced in the place of the small Lazdynai village, which gave the name to the future district, which reflected directly the vision of the Soviet society: from agriculture – to proletariat, from ancient huts – to illuminated modern apartment houses. At that time Lazdynai were appreciated not only by specialists, but by the residents as well[4]. To describe the district, many words were used uncharacteristic of the period in question, as well as emotion categories quite strange to modernistic architecture: cosy, quiet, it feels good here[5]. Does this mean that the system, which planned everything, intended to create genius loci in this place as well? Did the residents succeed in finding (understanding) it?

The aim of this article – to familiarize with the spirit of Lazdynai place and its temporal changes, not only looking for particularities and advantages seen by the eyes of first residents, but trying to find the answer to the question, why some features of the district have been appreciated or depreciated so far. It is known, that the spirit of a place may be felt by a stranger too, still, it is most important to the permanent users of the space – Lazdynai inhabitants; therefore, it has been sought to reveal their concept, that of Lazdynai dwellers. Looking from “the inside” and deliberately distancing themselves from quite active discussions in the communities of professionals, which, nevertheless, do not cause wide reflection among the inhabitants, we are searching for the spirit through studying people’s feelings within a wide period from the first days of the district until these days. Today, the status of the district has changed, it lost the glamour of a model residential place and in the public discourse became an example of Soviet times grey colour mass construction. This topic is relevant for today’s society, because in Vilnius only, block house districts even today comprise the major part of residential fund and, therefore, according to Ernestas Parulskis “to us, it is the homeland, block house districts are our homeland. […] And, like every homeland, block houses are generating narratives, part of which is of high quality and valuable. They are valuable to the extent converting a block house into memorial heritage”[6]. The main sources of the survey are recollections, information obtained during a field research, interviewing first inhabitants of Lazdynai – new settlers, who became flat owners in the district under construction and who have been living here since. Data basis consists of semi-structured interviews with 15 respondents and fragments of participant observation, executed in February- May 2013[7]. It is important to point out here that Lazdynai has already celebrated its 40th anniversary, while the number of witnesses, who are able to tell us their stories “from the inside”, is decreasing each year – elderly women are prevailing among the informants, the majority of them are widows. The information above is studied alongside with the official documents of that time, intended for representation of this exclusive district – a short documentary made on the occasion of Lenin prize award “Lazdynai. The Street of Architects”. Author V. Imbrasas, where the “parade opinion” on the newly built district is provided[8], the book “Lazdynai[9], written by V. Balčiūnas and J. Vanagas, the speech of one of the architects of the district, Vytautas Čekanauskas, delivered on the occasion of the Lenin Prize award[10] etc. Especially valuable are urban-sociological surveys, performed by J. Vanagas in 1974[11] and articles, published on the basis of them, assisting in revealing differences between the information on residential space, remained in memory and in questionnaires of that time.

Construction Context

Lazdynai – the Outpost of New Vilnius[12]

Although it had been officially stated in 1980 that Lazdynai was created as an ordinary district, the authors of which had not had any privileges and could not perform any experiments[13], yet, today J. Vanagas, the author of the words above, remembers that Lazdynai was the first district in the North West circuit around the city, therefore, “everyone wanted to showcase, the authorities <…> allowed more and allowed much more than it was permitted in the Soviet Union.“[14]

What was sought through creation of a model Soviet residential space? Zoning determined the modern post-war city not only in the Soviet Union, but in Western countries as well[15], linked to the Athens Charter (adopted even back in 1933 and considered a document that had made the greatest effect on post-war urbanism[16]). In this document, all functions of a city are stipulated: life, work, rest and transport, i.e., a city is divided into more or less mono-functional territories, where life of citizens of a modern wellfare state is organized. The zoning in the Soviet Union became the base for city planning only in the period of “thaw”. In 1954–1955, decisions were adopted by the government concerning measures improving design works, industrializing the construction and removing superfluities that had influenced not only the style of architecture, i.e., condemnation of Stalinist retrospectivity, but further guidelines on cities’ development as well. After Decision “On Development of Construction of  Residential Houses in the Soviet Union” was adopted in 1957, in which it was intended  within 10-12 years to liquidate the shortage in apartments, i.e., to erect in Vilnius  about 290 thousand square metre area multi-apartment buildings[17], practically no other measure remained, sufficiently effective in socio economic conditions of that time, except mass industrialized construction, organized by the principles of functionalistic city – residential districts, separated from industry by greenery and connected to the city’s centre by a highway (a major arterial street).

It should be acknowledged that this principle was applied not in the Soviet Union only, and the complexes of residential houses or (micro) districts were similar on both sides of the Baltic sea[18]. The similarities are explained not only by using the same planning principle, but taking advantage of direct possibilities to gain know-how from specialists of Scandinavia, who had been considered advanced specialists: for example, the centre of Lazdynai district, yet not implemented, intended over Kosmonautų avenue of that time is a clear parallel with the famous Stockholm suburb Vällingby, situated above underground station[19]. The compliments used when speaking about the architecture of Finland and Sweden, later will be said about Lazdynai: preservation of nature and relief, humanism, quality, landscaped environment[20]. The Scandinavian influence did not affect only social policy of provision with accommodation – the apartments in Lazdynai were designed as  standard type apartments in 5–9–12-storey buildings, and it was not possible to apply a system, highlighting that multi-apartment houses would be for small families, three-storey houses – for families, cottages or individual houses – for large families[21], although this theory had been known and promoted in academic works[22]. Nevertheless, in reality “different houses <…> were for urban diversity, not for social”[23], and this could be one of the reasons why Lazdynai (the more so other districts in Lithuania, more monotonous than Lazdynai) today have already become (called) a problem.

What aspects determined exclusiveness of Lazdynai to compare with the other Vilnius North West circuit districts? All researchers agree on the fact that Lazdynai was designed by extremely talented architects V. Brėdikis and V. E. Čekanauskas (although detailing of micro-districts and designs of public facilities were drawn up by other designers[24]). Still, the construction works, despite of defects mentioned in the copyright supervision reports, also went smoothly – one may find just several examples when, due to lack of funding, the architects were obligated to draft project proofreading – to find cheaper alternatives[25]. This confirms the statement by J. Vanagas about the exclusive status of the district, and, namely due to this fact, exclusively smooth implementation, which has been mentioned in V. Čekanauskas speech, delivered on the occasion of the Lenin Prize award, through expressing the gratitude to the understanding and intelligent builders.

Speaking about the adapted exclusive solutions, it shall be necessary to start from the residential houses built in Lazdynai. All houses of this district were produced (!) (a house is not built anymore, but produced) at Vilnius House Construction Combinate, until 1967 under series LT, later replaced by more modern series 1-464-LI (architect B. Krūminis and others), which was called “Lithuanian series”[26]. According to J. Vanagas, the series was created specifically for Lazdynai[27], although the first houses of this series had been tested even upon completion of Žirmūnai district, in its northern part. In the beginning, there were eight types of this series 5-storey and 9-storey houses, yet the architects of this district were not satisfied with a number, therefore, another 7 (!) types of houses were designed[28], the most distinguishing among them were “stepped” houses –  with each section “falling on the relief“, therefore, they had to re-gather anew the lifting cranes for each section, and two types of  broken plan 5-storey types, which were necessary to highlight the flexibility of the relief[29]. Tower type block 12-storey houses were built for the first time in Lithuania[30], and only because of the solution of composing, because such a height block-type building construction was recognized impractical. One of the most important achievements of the authors, later appreciated by the residents, was the fact, that, based on the quite complicated relief, greater distances between buildings had been designed than the standards at that time required[31].

It was not less important that in the district there were lots of street furniture elements – starting with sculptures and ending with benches and playgrounds for children. In the Republic, at that time Lazdynai was considered the most completed district[32]. Such an evaluation was extremely significant, because in the conditions of constant lack of funding, some residential districts were handed over for operation  without social infrastructure installed and without street furniture elements, while in Lazdynai there were paths built, greenery planted in accordance with the plan of types of plants, benches fitted, outdoor lighting fixtures, playgrounds for children and laundry drying places installed, even art works were erected – sculptures, which had become  aesthetic landmarks and accents of micro-districts[33].

The exclusiveness of the district in that context is confirmed by the fact that it used to be visited not only by tourists, but delegations of specialists as well, which were to take over “the know-how”. J. Vanagas recalls one excursion of specialists from a remote Russian city, when urbanism specialists were asking for drawings and stating that a suitable relief would be filled, otherwise they will be forced to build houses in empty spaces again, which are left on the drawing by construction technologists, thinking about the best routes for a tower crane, about the layout of construction sites and thoughtful access roads[34]. In such a context, Lazdynai had reasonably become a model – “the outpost of new Vilnius”, which was named with elation in “Literatūra ir menas” [Literature and Art] article, devoted to a discussion on the newly built and populated already district[35]. In this article, all advantages of the project and its implementation are listed optimistically, they would become an example to a future socialist city. After one year elapsed, in 1974, Lazdynai was awarded the Lenin Prize, which at that time was the highest degree award in the Soviet Union, and for the first time in history not an exclusive building was awarded, but a mass construction residential district. A memorial stone was erected in Lazdynai on that occasion – the district became a model residential space of Soviet times, a symbol of socialist well-being.

Official Evaluations

A model, where Soviet urbanism achievements in research and practice have been embodied.[36]

It was natural that the district immediately became a propaganda object – it used to be “advertised” in a special and popular press in the Soviet Union and even abroad, necessarily with a photograph taken of the plaque, memorializing Lenin Prize award. The statistics of good opinion of residents used to be demonstrated on a regular basis: in 1974, even 91.6 % respondents declared that they would remain to live in Lazdynai even if any other accommodation would be offered in another part of Vilnius[37]. Therefore, this result was highlighted at once in the article of J. Vanagas on Lazdynai and in the documentary “Lazdynai. The Street of Architects”. Later, it was reiterated in all publications, devoted to this district. “Identification with a place of residence” (this term, according to Ch. Norberg-Schulz, meant making “friends” with a particular environment[38], and at that time had already been used by Lithuanian researchers) was confirmed by the fact that not all respondents found what could be said about bad properties of the district, while some respondents were even confused by this questionnaire item[39].

A documentary, made on occasion of the Lenin Prize award, started with the wording: “Vilnius takes pride in Lazdynai”[40], which was forming the opinion not only of the viewers from our country, but also the opinion of residents, who lived in this district. Assessing, people used objective indicators – new houses, flats with conveniences accommodating just only one family, shopping and education facilities. It is interesting that similarly to Ch. Norberg-Schulz idea stating that everyday life consists of tangible and intangible phenomena, for example, feelings[41], when speaking about Lazdynai, the viewers are constantly reminded subjective senses. To compare with other descriptions of that time, feelings are devoted much more attention. For example, one of the prominent people who came to live to Lazdynai and was interviewed in the film above, the photographer Antanas Sutkus, highlighted a good aura of Lazdynai: “Lazdynai is a special place, because it feels so good here.”

Since the very beginning of district creation, genius loci, although not directly, has been used to be mentioned. One of the authors, the architect  V. Čekanauskas, pointed out this concept in his speech, made on the occasion of the Lenin Prize award: “first of all [when designing – v.j.] we made every effort  to understand traditions of Vilnius development, get to know why this city is different from other cities, what is characteristic of it.“[42] The architect emphasized not the individuality only, which in other words can be called the spirit of a place, but the fact as well that the most important assessors of the result must be local residents, and the result should be understandable to the dwellers, i.e., they must feel this spirit created. “Our main attention when designing and erecting this district, was devoted to a future resident, who are you now, inhabitants of Lazdynai. <…> so that you would feel satisfaction caused by the aesthetical value of nature and build-up of this district.”[43] According to architect Vytautas Balčiūnas, “efforts were made to include these buildings, not violating nature, into a harmonised whole. Now, we can see that we have not failed.”[44]

Although even at that time, people used to talk about convergence among the cities, caused by mass construction,  they highlighted as well that Lazdynai was an exception – “in new districts, people mostly are upset by monotony, while the architects of Lazdynai, through composing the space, were seeking diversity.“[45] True, the understanding of “diversity” was quite peculiar, when you look from today‘s perspective and study copyright supervision journal, where, in the opinion of design specialists, the growing of unsuitable flowers was acknowledged  arbitrary construction works: “the balconies fitted with various planks, event concrete mortar, on the external, flower boxes of different colours and shapes hung.”[46] A balcony in a standard house’s standard flat was not a private area anymore – it had to be in line with the whole of the standard district.

Nevertheless, officially, they sought to highlight the uniqueness of the district, this district even used to be equalled to the Old Town of Vilnius – the film shows V. Čekanauskas, sketching the panorama of Lazdynai next to the opened album with a photograph “Churches in the background of Mountains”, where St. Michael’s Church, St Anne’s Church and Bernardine Monastery can be seen. At that time, it was stated that during creation of the district, the “tradition of the build-up of old Vilnius”, was used, such as “humanistic scale”, which was “transferred to a new, socialist scale”, “streets for passing, closing perspectives”. Not only physical features should be mentioned, but also “emotional experiences”, such as cosiness. Analysis of architectural descriptions shows that one detail in particular should draw attention, which demonstrates possibilities of different economical systems, as well as thinking caused by them: throughout Lithuanian articles and in the architect’s speech, said on the occasion on the Lenin Prize award, as an exclusive sign of this district quality, it was mentioned  that in construction of this district „even dozens (!) of types of houses“[47] had been used (the exclamation mark has been placed by J. Vanagas, which reveals the diversity in typology as luxury), while this, even in 1980-ies, used to be a record in the practice of construction of industrial buildings[48]. Such an accent can be easily understood if you know the overall tendency in the country, the meaning of which is “architecture begins in the factory”, therefore, the permit to build the district had been obtained only after confirmation, received from the House Building Combinate, that all types of houses would be built[49]. To compare, in a book, published in Berlin in 1976, devoted to new socialist districts, the authors of Lazdynai had been assessed as being able to receive a huge diversity in composing using only thirteen types of houses[50].

In the press one could find descriptions of the district, which were euphoric indeed, although terms genius loci or the spirit of place were not used. Still, namely, this aspect was emphasized: the structure „naturally determined by natural conditions of the place”, the picturesque panorama of the district visible from Kaunas highway, which has become even the symbol of Vilnius, meeting arriving travellers, old town type patios highlighted, perspectives, due to which the district is especially in line with Vilnius scenery. There was even an opinion that “the scale of spaces and colours“ characteristic of a historic city had helped the inhabitants to grow accustomed  (thus, to identify themselves) faster with that new environment[51]. Even a musical work was dedicated to this district when it was in progress – Teisutis Makačinas “A Morning in Lazdynai”, released in 1972, in the disc “Concert Works”.

Evaluations of New Settlers

That Lenin Prize was awarded for good reasons

What was it Lazdynai inhabitants enjoyed? It seems they had been the same aspects, periodically mentioned at that time in the press:  perfect composing, spaciousness, preserved greenery and relief, fresh air, peace and quiet and good system of servicing. First inhabitants of Lazdynai used to live in waiting, with dreams and pride in their dwelling place obtained, although at that time this place could be reached through footpaths in clay, without any infrastructure completed. They used to read different comments and reviews in the press, therefore, the official discourse in the eighth decade is introduced today as a personal opinion, and even today people are emphasizing the exclusiveness of this district like it was in 1974, when, according to questionnaire data, the majority of Lazdynai dwellers appreciated the beautiful residential environment best, and just in the second place – the interesting architecture of the buildings[52]. On the one hand, they were among the possible answers in the questionnaire, and it might be that without the answers offered, their answers could be different, still, after the survey, they were published many times and have become an integral part of self-perception of Lazdynai inhabitants. It’s true, today nobody speaks about beautiful architecture of the buildings, still urban solutions have been emphasized so far.

At the same time, one cannot forget that the majority of new Vilnius residents were newcomers from smaller settlements, therefore, the city itself made a great impression on them: “You know, I am in Vilnius, as if in Paris or elsewhere great – I could not understand where to go, and I feared to get lost in the city” (Bronė). The other very important moment, which has impact and had impact on their recollections was a fact of obtaining a flat and feelings, related to this fact: “imagine, at that time you have nothing, and all of a sudden you have your own flat: a paradise to live in” (Laima).

It has not been known whether the opinion of inhabitants had been influenced by the public space, or growing accustomed, still it is clear that not all of them liked at once the new and at that time very empty district: Veronika and her husband prior to moving went for several times to visit Lazdynai in progress, and were trying to make decision – move or not to move, and each time the district looked differently – in the beginning „it was not cosy there, you know, single buildings scattered, fields […] after coming home, we told each other, that we are not going to move to Lazdynai” yet later the image became better, it looked much cosier […]. “And one day my husband and I thought that the sight is quite good, and then the time came when we moved and after some time “it became more beautiful, cosier and finally it became very much cosy. The only one thing, which could not be managed promptly was greenery, although all efforts were made to preserve old greenery. The first photographs of the district show the fields, which the mother of Ona, a pensioner at that time, could not accept: “it [the district] was so empty – no young tree, nothing, absolutely nothing. <…> She said that she could not understand what was it, a desert, a village empty, yet, you know, later she grew accustomed.”

The most important event, which has been influencing the valuation of the district so far “from the inside”, was Lenin Prize awarding, and the stone that immortalized that event, erected in the pedestrian alley of Pakrantė micro-district (better known as micro-district I), in which tourist groups coming to Lazdynai were brought while on the route from the cinema theatre to the restaurant or from the restaurant to the stone. All old residents of Lazdynai, who have been asked about, knew about the Prize, many of them knew even the surnames of the architects (especially V. E. Čekanauskas), still the award itself, due to its name, today is valued ambiguously. Some Lazdynai residents dissociate from it, stating that this has not had any influence on their life, still most frequently they state that the name is not so important as the fact of appreciation, while the district was worth the Prize indeed because of its perfect plan, i.e. preserved relief, greenery and “not crowded houses”. Petras and Aldona even tell us that people “were waiting for the award, because the district was an exceptional one.“ Nijolė has commented the best properties of the district most actively, she even brought her guests from Moscow to come and enjoy the district. She even compares with Žirmūnai, the district which was awarded with a prize of all-Union, “although having lots of land, they have not created such a good plan” (interestingly, at present, real estate prices are slightly higher in Žirmūnai; it is believed that Žirmūnai is situated nearer the centre[53]).

Naturally, at present, the old residents of Lazdynai, who admire great distances between the houses, are worried with the attempts to densify the district, which can be already seen or anticipated: “at present they barbarize the district [Lazdynai] by inserting those structures, such as those in front of the church, over there. So horrible, yellow buildings, a window in front of a window, something terrible” (Bronė). Conspiration theories, stating that the residents do not wish to change the environment, appeared even then, when the district construction was not completed – according to Nadia, somebody was waiting especially until Lazdynai was awarded the Lenin Prize as a district very well planned, and after that it was allowed to impair the district, i.e. to densify the build-up through erecting 16-storey buildings that were intended even before  the construction of the entire district was commenced and were delayed for financial reasons only. Greenery had become one of the distinctive features of the district – the forest, which at that time was almost wild, was easily reached in all directions. On the other hand, one could enjoy nature not only in the forest but over the windows as well, where “carefully supervised flower beds and rock-gardens provided grey industrial type houses with warmth and cosiness.”[54] Ona recollects nostalgically that flowers used to be replanted twice a year. The trees – lindens, chestnuts – also were supervised with a professional approach. Nijolė and Janina, at the beginning of the eighth decade were growing their children and spent lots of time in the greenery. They recollect with great respect the “gardener”, described by both of them as “an intelligent of Smetona times”, who has his own system adapted to each small tree. Yet, the most pleasure was brought by the surrounding natural forest, which Nijolė equalled to Valakampiai, where everything was around – from wild strawberries and mushrooms to walking spaces, sunbathing and games of Indians. To go to the forest was the main form of spare time spending to many families: “we did not have a car, so, on weekends we went to the forest“ (Marius), in addition, not only for walking: people used to push perambulators, rode bicycles, while in winter went skiing directly from the yards (there is an interesting fact that in Lazdynai not only children went skiing or cycling, but adults as well). This forest was not just a recreational space, but to some group of residents it became a part of household: “the forest was full with goods – and mushrooms, and berries. My husband went in the morning and brought mushrooms for breakfast, lots of mushrooms, even too much for breakfasting” (Laima).

Interestingly, although C. Norberg-Schulz writes about a friendship between a modern human and nature, which has shrunk to fragmented ties because a human must grow accustomed and identify himself with the environment created by his own, such as streets and houses[55], still, namely nature in Lazdynai is a base for identification with the place, and at the same time with genius loci. On the other hand, the author acknowledges that identification objects are properties of a particular environment and connection to them mostly develops through construction of environment perception model in the childhood, and, in accordance to this, all future experiences will be valued[56]. This theory would explain not only desire of people who have come to live to the cities from smaller and greener surroundings, to live in a green district, closer to nature, but also the wish of architects who were specified by V. Čekanauskas as “we both came from rural environments, and Vilnius was extremely impressive to us.” Maybe this way the concept of Lazdynai has formed itself, which had been so pleasant to many residents of that time, – modern conveniences, everything surrounded in greenery. It’s for good reason the peace and quiet has been emphasized so far: those are the aspects opposite to the noise and hurry in the city. And vice versa, the specialists of these days do not consider any more such a planning conception an advantage; it was criticized openly and strictly by Polish author and psychotherapist Dawid Bieńkowski in his book Nothing: “At that time, the architects of countryside origin were the most reliable. A city to them was an enemy. Therefore, they, using most advanced arguments, made efforts to return to cities the character of countryside at any cost. Therefore, in their opinion, a meadow should be installed among the houses, alongside with the grass, weeds and poplars, and in the shade there must be cows grazing, which used to be so understandable to architects with countryside roots.”[57]

The Concepts of the Conflicting Present – Ageing Genius Loci

“Of course, it was a prestigious district, while at present it is a bit deteriorated” (Janina)

Mass construction residential districts at all times have been targets of active polemics – at “that time” their advantages used to be named in comparison to old towns, later slightly still increasingly heard criticism appeared, while today the urbanism of modernism (not only that of Soviet times) is associated with the grey colour depersonalized spaces and structures, which since some time has not been in line with the perfect residential environment, and people talk openly even about becoming city‘s ghettos, from where young people are trying to escape[58]. How do the patriots of Lazdynai react to such a discourse? The patriots who still “do not want to go anywhere else”?

The old residents from Lazdynai consider those unsafe open plan structures or chaotic green spaces, criticized by real estate developers and some architects, the advantages of the district, denying links between the environment and social problems identified by themselves: “it was beautiful here then, it is beautiful now“ (Genutė), although the greenery, which is appreciated very much, and great distances between the houses increase insecurity as well: “you can see many trees here, it is beautiful here in summer, but in winter, especially in late autumn, you think about insecurity here when coming home“ (Janina). In the official summaries on crime, Lazdynai does not differ from the other similar districts, where thefts are prevailing[59], which mostly threaten the elderly, returning from shops, because they are mugged in the woods or near their stairways, their doorsteps, where they are made to give away their purses and remain shocked with great feeling of insecurity. Just Bronė tells us with pride that she once has suffered an attempt of mugging her when she was walking to the hospital, still this incident failed‚ as “my response was not ordinary, because I went chasing him”. Still, it is highlighted when defending the district, that safety is a problem of the entire country, and stressed quite ironically: “Maybe just in Turniškės it would be safer” (Laima). Nevertheless, in recent times, the characteristic system of open spaces organized specifically and their preservation again has become a cause for conflicts of Lazdynai residents and those “from other places”, as well as between the residents and authorities: the fence enclosing an apartment house built by the residents that had been angry with passing or driving strangers across the yard, obstructed getting to the kindergarten, so, it was told to demolish the fence at the beginning of 2018[60], while even in June the district residents themselves lodged a complaint concerning the fence that was being installed around the school in micro-district IV[61]. The autochthons of Lazdynai, developing the statements of the modernistic planning and even using the modern rhetoric, criticise other districts, highlighting the advantages of their own district: “Lazdynai is much cosier, in many levels to compare with other districts of mass construction, and after you go to the Centre and then come to the suburb, then you feel that you are breathing air, not only exhaustion fumes” (Bronė). Interestingly, their arguments could be adapted easily (while are adapted by people not from Lazdynai) to Lazdynai itself: great distance from the city, not cosy, everything’s the same, flats have been planned poorly. Even more in one voice and more emotionally repeating the clichés formed by the media, although this time by today’s media, the newest districts of the city are criticised: “Jesus, I have looked at those near the BIG, and once again I tell you: it’s horrible – a house sits by a house” (Dalia). Namely today, the density of the development in public spaces is assessed controversially – on the one hand, the Chief Architect of Vilnius city Mindaugas Pakalnis, referring to Western Europe urban planning experience and economic calculations, stresses that Vilnius, and especially its “sleeping districts” has not been built up densely enough, even quite the opposite, to function as a vital city with developed and supervised infrastructure[62]. On the other hand, during another interview, he himself compares Lazdynai and Perkūnkiemis, the density of which is four times higher, and calls it “a memorial to wild capitalism”. The residents of Lazdynai describe the situation of new districts using another cliché “a window in front of a window, defects everywhere…” Yes, even defects. Acknowledging that this was in Lazdynai as well, people like to highlight problems of new construction projects today and are glad that in their own house “at least you could not see any holes in the walls”, and the house will be standing for another hundred years. On the other hand, when in the late Soviet times, some criticism appeared regarding convergence among the cities, the press provided arguments that under the pretext of liquidation of shortage in flats, “the most real method had been chosen – construction of large complexes of multi-apartment, high-rise buildings”.[63] Similar necessities and similar notes of submission can be seen in the attitude or residents that one of the reasons that had determined the falling in love with their own district, maybe, was a real evaluation of one‘s own possibilities – for example, Ona who had obtained a standard flat consisting of four rooms in Lazdynai, remembers this situation today: “At that time, one could not expect anything different. I obtained sufficiently good, because only the very top officials could obtain better.” Interestingly, that some residents not only remained in Lazdynai, but even exchanged apartments there or returned to this district, consciously refusing accommodation in other districts of the city. Both daughters of Bronė were looking for flats namely in Lazdynai, the daughter of Eglė is looking for such a house as well, at the moment she has moved to Justiniškės several years ago. Under new circumstances, Nijolė, Genutė and Nadia returned to the apartments of their youth and now Nadia is stating, strongly and emotionally, that “it has been a dream to return to Lazdynai.”

There is another expression of positive evaluation of the district of those times and district of these days, this time official expression,  – its inclusion into the Digest of the History and Culture Memorials of Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic and removal to the Register of Cultural Valuables of the Republic of Lithuania[64], although this fact does not protect  the district against changes, which are, of course, valued negatively by long-time dwellers, still the residents do not reflect at all on district preservation aspect. On the one hand, this may be considered a shortage in heritage management system communication, they have not been informed, no legend about Lazdynai as an object of heritage has been created, which, likely, would be acceptable to the majority of long-term dwellers of Lazdynai. Most likely, this is related to the ambivalent approach of the heritage specialists – the district officially has been made a heritage unit, still it has not been  consciously accepted or recognized  as a “real heritage”, and, as Rasa Čepaitienė points out that it is not clear “what heritage and whose heritage  it is – an inconvenient, industrial, of non-privileged strata of society […], everyday life,  Soviet system and ideology of those times, modern architecture and urbanism?”[65] On the other hand, the paradox of thinking of the residents themselves becomes clear – a desire exists to preserve the  status quo of the district, still just until the moment  when personal interests are touched – the finer the scale and the closer situation to an individual personally, the more frequently the opposite attitude is accentuated – the life must move further (you cannot prohibit window replacement to all dwellers).

Not only all windows in the district have been replaced (plastic instead of wooden, white instead of black), – the forest nearby has changed as well, which was liked in the past very much – the residents now emphasize on a regular basis that the forest was clean and safe in the past (“no syringes found”, – Nadia), thus contrasting to the situation of these days. Marius describes the situation accurately and in a laconic way: “today everything is covered with litter, while then, we were able to go for mushrooms, berries there“, or Laima: “No, no, I am scared now.“ On the other hand, Janina can remember from “those times”, that some exhibitionist was walking in the forest, still it was described not strictly, as he had done nothing bad, he had not posed a threat to the overall sense of safety, it cannot be even compared with apprehensions of Genutė: “You may lose your head, your handbag and in any other way be desecrated.”

Today, the former decorative elements of the district are associated with kind of garbage – sculptures that had to compensate the grey colour of monotonous houses and erection “nowhere”, i.e. loss of space symptoms, characteristic of construction of that time, which has lost its meaning[66], like another question about desire to live in another house. Nevertheless, some differences appear here as well, to tell the truth, not because of the house itself (“all are the same”), but the location of the house – some are near the wood, others – by the shop, while this sometimes is a disadvantage, in other cases – an advantage, depending on the point, where “my house” sits, because this place at all times has had its own positive aspects. Although in the official Soviet time reports, everybody was glad looking at a clear Lazdynai plan[67], still the houses used to be confused: for example, there was a building of builders’ dormitory next to the house where Bronė lived, and “the builders at that time were people that most of the time have been drinking” Therefore, her apartment on the fifth floor (!) used to be reached by sometimes angry people searching for their own folks. Such a situation was unfabled and recurring one, and it just confirms that the outstanding film by director Eldar Ryazanov “The Irony of Fate or Have a Good Sauna!” of the year 1975, having ridiculed the standardised situation at all levels of life at that time, was absolutely in line with Soviet everyday life and, maybe because of this, is perfectly understandable and close to the population of (post)Soviet space. In such an environment, according to Kevin Lynch “A Theory of Good Urban Form”[68], the landmarks were necessarily required, and, we must acknowledge this, today they perform the same function. Still, the attitude towards them changes, taking into account their physical condition, and after being the objects of former pride and aesthetic pleasure, they have become the objects to be pitied or even causing abhorrence, especially when comparing “then” and “now” categories. The deterioration of district’s infrastructure and buildings is one of the negative aspects of the present, emphasized in the press, sometimes in order to enhance the impression, even “plot thicken” and set against the previous glory of the district. It seems that the case of “Vėtrungė” (Weathercock) sculpture (author K. Valaitis) is especially painful – all dwellers living in the neighbourhood of “Erfurtas” complex, of which an only one shop and a drug store remained, were sorry for the small pool around the “Vėtrungė” that has become a “a mess” and a “small dumpsite”. The fate of the “Rytas” (The Morning) sculpture in micro-district IV (author G. Karalius) is a bit different – nobody calls this sculpture “Rytas“ anymore, still, everybody knows it, meets for various business near it and lives close to it, yet this means that people do this in the location “by the horse”. By the way, a big horse with a rider is well visible, the shape of this sculpture is not abstract, quite easily recognized, and, therefore, in previous times, it got more personal attention than a neutral “Vėtrungė” or the serene “Lithuanian Girl” – „yes, the bronze girl has been sitting here, we are wondering… why it has not been stolen yet” (Nijolė). Nadia, who told us almost in a fit of laughter about one of funny incidents, when „this poor man… who is riding the horse… It was a very cold morning, and, supposing that Rytas was cold too, somebody put a coat on the sculpture, people looked and smiled in the morning, still so far nobody seems to have found out who was that good person.”

Such a bright space of memory, infinite nostalgia in contrast with the dilapidated present not necessarily shows an objective deterioration or worsening of the district, it is more a change in social status, an attitude towards the life and future. According to the urbanist Tomas Grunskis, who has said straight – “it was a modernistic urban utopia, implemented at a wide scale”[69]. This is reflected by the informants themselves. Janina has been most exact when formulating this: “of course, we themselves were young then, but the district has become outdated over the years.“

Looking for a Personal Connection

“What I can tell you for sure that I am a patriot of Lazdynai, yes, in some real sense I am” (Dalia)

According to Ch. Norberg Schulz, “Whenever environment is meaningful, a person feels at home”[70], still the autochthons of Lazdynai that live in the environment, criticized by him as not having originality, told us about cosiness and a sense of home. Maybe this means, that it is necessary to associate himself not only with architecture, but with social aspects as well, which are connected closely with personal experiences, – community-sense, functions of spaces and associations, affecting today’s evaluation of the environment. For example, warm recollections of “Lazdynai” cinema theatre, and, especially, the first film: “The first film was on the show at Lazdynai cinema theatre, and all people from Lazdynai went to this film show” (Marius).

The local spirit materialized best in the famous at that time “Erfurtas” complex, which had become a pride of the district and one of its symbols; it was included into the film about Lazdynai and until these days remembered nostalgically by even the leaders of those times Vilnius: “Only a few Soviet cities could boast night bars. <…> Thus, even in this sphere we used to be among originators in the Soviet Union.”[71] The residents also widely discuss this place especially enjoying recollections about the restaurant, which was quite “a level” across the entire city, still on weekdays, even schoolchildren used to take their complex lunch there: “They charged one rubble for a complex lunch, so it was so much to eat and overeat“ (Marius). In the evenings, they used to go there as to a restaurant, especially on festive days: “Sometimes we went to this “Erfurtas” in front of, I remember “Erfurtas” was considered a gooood restaurant [whispers]. And Kaziukas appeared, a waiter, who lights you a cigarette up when you come up – aaaooch!“  (Dalia). An exclusive phenomenon was the programme of night bar of “Erfurtas” – Eglė remembers that Viktoras Malinauskas used to sing there, while Petras and Aldona used to listen to the concert in their balcony (in summer the windows of the bar were not closed), while Genutė and Nadia shared the strategies of getting inside without permanent queueing: “What? Were you not aware of a simple method? 10 rubbles had to be stuck on the glass and you passed.”

The adults were interested more in shops and the restaurant, while children of those days, a generation “with keys around the neck” enjoyed Lazdynai as a good and huge playground. Children were roaming neighbouring woods, went for apples to former village homesteads survived, played on the meadows between the houses or in the yards of houses, where separate playgrounds were installed and exploited intensively. There is an interesting story told by Nadia, explaining a mysterious entry in the archive about a labyrinth, a small wall, which was made  for children to play at the time of landscaping the territory of the micro-district  I, still later a decision was made to stop future installations, because “they require more cultural exploitation“[72] This installation used to stand near the house, where Genutė and Nadia lived and was called a fortress, while it required a more “cultural exploitation” because “we were frolicking there until several children left their teeth there, fell off and left their own teeth and that’s it. […] Nataška fell off and her front teeth remained there, some other children too. Only then they destroyed it.”  When comparing the yard of these days and that “of those days” people highlight the decrease in number of children, which is related to unsafe environment as well: “nobody seems to let children on their own to the yard. Each child walks together with his or her father or mother. In those times, we let them go on those hills in winter, made using tractors… Children aged three or four were frolicking on their own, just in good overalls they had to be, our job was to oversee them over the window and that’s it” (Nijolė). The district has become more silent and not showing so many signs of vitality.

The vitality of the district extremely depended on children because Lazdynai people failed to organize communities consisting of socializing neighbours, even no community of a yard or immediate neighbours existed, therefore, the informants, even those positively remembering this district recollect nostalgically the districts, where they used to live previously, as in those places the people were part of the place, “where we knew each other. It’s true – if a person from Žvėrynas was walking, we knew him or her, despite of age, was he young or old, he was our neighbour in Žvėrynas, because we knew those who lived in Žvėrynas“. (Nijolė). Similarly, Sofia describes Užupis: “I used to live in Užupis. […] I liked it there too. Those were times, when hooligans, drunken men used to wander around there, still not threatening the locals.” After moving to Lazdynai, the newcomers encountered the problem of privacy (“cardboard walls”, “a window in front of a window”), which caused keeping away from the neighbours. On the other hand, there were few houses, where one could find people of similar interests or just suitable for friendship people: social utopia, planned by Soviet engineers failed, because the new settlers used not to be just statistical figures, they used to be already formed and different people, who today are trying to find the reasons of their not being sociable persons: “each of us lived  some other life brought from somewhere else” (Bronė).

Even today, although the City‘s architect states that ”active communities are the only one chance for “the Soviet times sleeping district“[73], while the eldership tries to gather community of residents through organizing calendar and district-related festivals (District‘s Anniversary, a Day for the Elderly, congratulations to centenarians), yet the autochthons of the district  like  staying away, maintaining, apart from other things, that they are missing traditional “city’s space” “maybe we lack some place, some central square, where many events could be celebrated, because a place next to the bus stop, between the bus stop and the store, I believe is not a place we are speaking about, what‘s the place is that?“ (Marius).


Lazdynai is a special district in the context of residential spaces of Soviet times, therefore, the changes in its assessment and especially in the attitude of the residents themselves are relevant in the situation of residential environment re-evaluation, as answers must be find concerning the future of these districts. At the same time, it must be recognized that the value and exclusiveness are relative measure units. Lazdynai, although being a product of the same levelling system, to compare with neighbouring districts is “richer” with architectural expression measures, and this allows speaking not only about the unique spirit of this place, formed by urban compositions, different types of houses and street furniture forms, although maybe not in the classic meaning attributable to oldtowns, but about comparative value as through criticising the other similar districts.

Social aspects provide environment with a meaning as well, while in the case of the first residents of Lazdynai  – mostly recollections, creating a cosy and safe, even nostalgic, space of memory, where places are meaningful due to events related to these locations that maybe were very ordinary, still experienced together with dear people or which should be related with a period of good memories – “then we were young too”. Today, the first settlers in Lazdynai create difference between “then”, when this district has been a prestigious one and “now”, when the district and apartments in there are floating away from the previous perfection. In the context of increasingly strengthening professional architecture and social criticism and changing public opinion, this nostalgia appears to be defence, when, developing the official arguments of the Soviet times as their personal opinion, the residents like to speak even today about exclusiveness of this district and very good urban solutions – survived relief, greenery and distances between houses, still ignoring the immediate environment – apartments and houses that have not passed the test of  time.

It seems that genius loci, although not using this concept but speaking about exclusiveness and cosiness, was a part of planning system of those times and was implemented successfully through application of many tools of Soviet “soft” propaganda. Maybe therefore it is difficult to find an observer on the sidelines or a new settler in our times who cannot see differences between the houses, does not appreciate the greenery which sometimes look like growing in chaos or large distances between buildings and does not know a winged saying, which, it is thought, has been realized when planning Lazdynai: “if the architects, designing new residential areas, used the progressive architectural traditions of the old city, the cities would not become similarly looking“[74] On the other hand, such a practice should be considered absolutely successful if we assess opinion of the residents: in the neighbouring Karoliniškės district that had not suffered this type “advertising campaigns” and had not become a symbol of the Soviet progress, the opinion of residents on their own district is more down-to-earth, without any pride, characteristic of Lazdynai autochthons, or even the passion when defending their district[75]. Thus, although the “new”, i.e. modernism, architecture is to blame for destroying the spirit of this place, it is clear that in modern society the sense of the place could be created successfully not only using architectural means, but information as well. This sense could be based not only on a feeling but on the grafted knowledge as well, which is suggestive to this extent as it acts together with the human trait to appreciate everything, which is own even by denying or consciously reducing the problems existing that arise from the shortages of the surrounding environment itself or, paradoxically, its perfection.

Thus, for the first residents of Lazdynai, the discourse formed by modernistic architecture criticism became the lifestyle, the strategy of self-esteem retaining and nostalgia at the same time, while the Lazdynai legend created in public spaces – a ground to state that “there is no better district than this one”. These arguments assist the older residents in surviving changes in their social status, coming to terms with their own limited possibilities, although many of them would have dreams about a small own house in real nature and allow retaining the concept of their own genius loci. It should be pointed out that this nostalgia and appreciation of the place of residence is being handed down to younger generations. Thus, namely such a local “patriotism” based on a legend and nostalgia provides this district, previously known as the pride of the city, with the hope of surviving in the future.


  1. Balčiūnas Vytautas, Vanagas Jurgis, Lazdynai, Vilnius: Mokslas, 1983.
  2. Bieńkowski David, Nieko [Nothing], Vilnius: Mintis, 2007.
  3. Caldenby Claes, „From Cradle to Grave. Living and Dying in the Urban Modernity”, in: Living and dying in the urban modernity, sudarytojai Claes Caldenby, Ola Wedebrunn, Docomomo Denmark, 2010, p. 5–
  4. Čekanauskas Vytautas, Kalbos Lenino premijos suteikimo proga mašinraštis su pastabomis, 1974, in: šeimos archyvas.
  5. Čepaitienė Rasa, „Sovietinis kasdienybės paveldas: Žirmūnų atvejis” [Soviet Everyday Life Heritage: Žirmūnai Case], in: Mokslinė-praktinė konferencija „Pažangi architektūros paveldo apsauga: misija (ne)įmanoma?“[Research and Practice Conference: „Advanced Protection of the Architectural Heritage: Mission (Im)possible?” Valstybinė kultūros paveldo komisija, 2017, p.104–
  6. Drėmaitė Marija, „Pigiau, daugiau, greičiau. Masinė gyvenamoji statyba ir modernizmo kanonai“ [More, Cheaper and Faster. Mass Residential Construction and Modernist Architecture Norms], in: Naujasis židinys – Aidai, Vilnius, 2006 No. 8, 321–328.
  7. Drėmaitė Marija, „Šiaurės modernizmo įtaka „lietuviškajai architektūros mokyklai“ 1959-1969 m. [Northern Modernism Influence on „Lithuanian School of Architecture”: 1959-1969.“, in: Menotyra, Vilnius, 2011, T.18. Nr. 4, 308–328.
  8. Drėmaitė Marija, Petrulis Vaidas, Tutlytė Jūratė, Architektūra sovietinėje Lietuvoje [Soviet Architecture in Lithuania], Vilnius: Vilniaus dailės akademijos leidykla, 2012.
  9. Dumalakas Arūnas, „Vienu patraukliausiu buvęs Vilniaus rajonas turi rimtų bėdų” [A Vilnius District, an Attractive One Previously, Troubled These Days] in: Lietuvos rytas, [interactive], 09 April 2018, [accessed 29 August 2018],
  10. Grigaliūnaitė Violeta, „Aplink Vilniaus mokyklą tveriama tvora papiktino gyventojus: negalėsime praeiti” [People Outraged at School Building Fencing in Vilnius: No Passing for Residents], [interactive], 16 June 2018, [accessed 27 August 2018],
  11. Grunskis Tomas, „Architektas T.Grunskis: K 18 pastatas – kosminis laivas, smigsiantis į Vilniaus veidą” [Architect T. Grunskis: Building K 18 – a Spacecraft to Dive into the Face of Vilnius], [interactive], 13 July 2018, [accessed 27 August 2018],
  12. Imbrasas Vytenis, Lazdynai: Architektų gatvė [Lazdynai: Architektų Street (Street of Architects)], [interactive], Vilnius, 1974, [accessed 14 January 2013]:
  13. Interviu su Karoliniškių rajono gyventojais [Interviewing the Residents of Karoliniškės District], December 2013 – September 2017. Užrašė V. Janušauskaitė, in: V.Janušauskaitės archyvas.
  14. Interviu su J.Vanagu [Interview with Vanagas], 2013-04-23. Užrašė V. Janušauskaitė, in: V.Janušauskaitės archyvas.
  15. Janušauskaitė Viltė, „Masinės statybos perlai – paveldas ar palikimas?” [Mass Construction Jewels – Heritage or Inheritance?] , in: Masinės statybos gyvenamųjų rajonų architektūra Lietuvoje, sudarytojai Liutauras Nekrošius, Vytautas Petrušonis, Edita Riaubienė, Vilnius: Technika, 2017, p.8–
  16. Karaliūnaitė Ugnė, „Vilniaus architektas: reikia galvoti ne apie renovaciją, o kaip į miestą grąžinti žmones“ [An Architect from Vilnius: Don‘t Do Renovation Work Prior to Returning People to the City], [interactive], 1 March 2013, [accessed 29 August 2018],
  17. Karsokaitė Viktorija „Vilniaus vyriausiasis architektas Mindaugas Pakalnis: „Perkūnkiemis – paminklas laukiniam kapitalizmui“[Vilnius City Chief Architect Mindaugas  Pakalnis: Perkūnkiemis is a Memorial to Wild Capitalism, [interactive], 02 November 2017, [accessed 29 August 2018],
  18. Lazdynai, in: LRT aukso fondas (Lithuanian Radio & Television Golden Fund. [interactive], [accessed 29 August 2018],
  19. Lazdynų gyvenamųjų namų mikrorajono II eilės statybos darbų dokumentai (projektavimo užduotys, sąmata, sąlygos ir kt.) [Lazdynai Residential Micro-District: the II-nd Phase of Construction Works (design specifications, estimate, terms and conditions, etc.)]. Vilniaus miesto vykdomojo komiteto Kapitalinės statybos valdyba, Techninis skyrius, Vilnius, 1975, in: Vilniaus regioninis valstybės archyvas, f. 1095, ap. 4, b.19.
  20. Lazdynų gyv. rajono antrasis mikrorajonas: Architektūrinė-statybinė dalis [The Second Micro-District of Lazdynai Residential District: Architectural and Civil Engineering Part] Miestų statybos projektavimo institutas, Vilnius, 1969, in: Vilniaus regioninis valstybės archyvas, f.1036, ap.11, b. 504.
  21. Lazdynų gyv. rajono Pakrantės mikrorajonas Vilniuje [Pakrantė Micro-District of Lazdynai Residential District in Vilnius]. Miestų statybos projektavimo institutas, Vilnius, 1970, in: Vilniaus regioninis valstybės archyvas, f. 1036, ap.11, b. 660.
  22. Lazdynų gyvenamojo rajono urbanistiniai-sociologiniai tyrimai: ataskaita [Research in Urban-Sociology of Lazdynai Residential District: A Report]. Vilnius: Vilniaus inžinerinis statybos institutas; temos vadovas J. Vanagas, 1974.
  23. Lazdynų mikrorajono Nr.4 užstatymo darbų dokumentai (projektinės užduotys, sąmatos, aktai ir kt.) [Documents of Development Works of Lazdynai Micro-District No 4 (design specifications, estimates, acts, etc.)]. Vilniaus miesto vykdomojo komiteto Kapitalinės statybos valdyba, Techninis skyrius, Vilnius, 1974, in: Vilniaus regioninis valstybės archyvas, f. 1095, ap. 4, b. 7.
  24. Liutkevičienė Inga, Déjà vu. Vilnius 1974-1990: knyga apie vilniečių gyvenimą, miesto paslaptis pagal paskutinio sovietmečio Vilniaus mero Algirdo Vileikio pasakojimą [Vilnius in 1974-1990: A Book about the Life of Vilnius Residents and Secrets of this City, Based on Reminiscences of the Last Soviet Mayor Algirdas Vileikis , Vilnius: BALTO print, 2012.
  25. Lynch Kevin Adrew, Image of the City, Cambridge (MA), London: MIT Press, 1960
  26. LR Kultūros vertybių registras: Lazdynai [The Register of Cultural Values of the Republic of Lithuania: Lazdynai, [interactive], [accessed 29 August 2018],
  27. Miškinis Algimantas, Lietuvos urbanistika: istorija, dabartis, ateitis [Lithuanian Urbanism: the History, the Present and Past]. Vilnius : Mintis, 1991.
  28. Norberg-Shulz Christian, Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. New York: Rizzoli, 1980.
  29. Nusikalstamų veikų žinybinio registro duomenų žemėlapis [The Crime Map of Departmental Register of Criminal Offences, [interactive], 2018, [accessed 29 August 2018],
  30. Pakalnis Mindaugas, „Vilnius. Dezintegracijos iššūkis“ [The Challenge of Disintegration] Vilnius., in: ALF03 Miestas. Lūžio taškai [A City. The Turning Points], [interactive], 2014, [accessed 29 August 2018],
  31. Parulskis Ernestas, „Memorialinės lentos Lazdynuose“ [Memorial Plaques in Lazdynai], in: ALF02 Modernizmas – tarp nostalgijos ir kritiškumo [Modernism – Between Nostalgia and Criticism], [interactive], 2014, [accessed 29 August 2018],
  32. Rietdorf Werner, Neue Wohngebiete sozialistischer Länder. Berlin: Verlag für Bauwessen, 1976.
  33. Vanagas Jurgis, „Lazdynai: sociologinis autoportretas“ [Lazdynai: the Sociological Self-Portrait] , in: Švyturys, Vilnius, 1975, Nr.7, p.12–13.
  34. Vanagas Jurgis, Miesto gyvenamosios aplinkos formavimas: sociologinis aspektas [Formation of Urban Residential Environment: the Sociological Aspect]. Vilnius: Technika, 1992.
  35. Vanagas Jurgis, „Lazdynai – naujojo Vilniaus forpostas” [The Outpost of New Vilnius – Lazdynai], in: Literatūra ir menas, Vilnius, 1973 m. birželio 23 d., Nr.25 (1386), p. 8–9.
  36. Vilniaus architektūra [The Architecture of Vilnius], sudarytoja Algė Jankevičienė, Vilnius: Mokslas, 1985.
  37. Žemaitytė Birutė, „Kodėl Lazdynai pigesni už Žirmūnus?“ [Why is Lazdynai Cheaper than Žirmūnai?], in: Žurnalas „Investuok”, [interactive], 2017 m. rugsėjo 15 d., [accessed 28 August 2018],


[1] The major part of this text has been published for the first time in 2014, in a collection Vietos dvasios beieškant [Looking for the Spirit of a Place],  red. R.Čepaitienė, Vilnius: Lietuvos istorijos instituto leidykla, p. 398-430.

[2] Christian Norberg-Schulz, Genius loci: towards a phenomenology of architecture, New York: Rizzoli, 1980,  p. 18, 189.

[3] Le Corbusier, Vers une architecture, 1923. Cit. iš: Christian Norberg-Shulz, op. cit., p. 6.

[4] Vytautas Balčiūnas, Jurgis Vanagas, Lazdynai, Vilnius: Mokslas, 1983, p. 12–14.

[5] Vytenis Imbrasas, Lazdynai: Architektų gatvė [Lazdynai: The Street of Architects], [interactive], Vilnius, 1974, [accessed 14 January 2013]:].

[6] Ernestas Parulskis, „Memorialinės lentos Lazdynuose” [Memorial Plagues in Lazdynai], in: ALF02 Modernizmas – tarp nostalgijos ir kritiškumo, [interactive], 2014, [accessed 29 August 2018],

[7] In order to preserve confidentiality of persons mentioned by them, all names in the work, except for public persons, for example, Lazdynai elder, have been changed, addresses and names of employers are not given.

[8] Vytenis Imbrasas, op. cit.

[9] Vytautas Balčiūnas, Jurgis Vanagas, op. cit., p. 60.

[10] Vytautas Čekanauskas, The typewriting of the speech, delivered on the occasion of the Lenin Prize award, with comments, 1974, in: family archive.

[11] Lazdynų gyvenamojo rajono urbanistiniai-sociologiniai tyrimai: ataskaita. [Research in Urban-Sociology of Lazdynai Residential District:  a Report]. Vilnius: Vilniaus inžinerinis statybos institutas; temos vadovas J. Vanagas, 1974, 110 l. The most important results of the survey have been published in Jurgis Vanagas, „Lazdynai: sociologinis autoportretas“ [Lazdynai: the Sociological Self-Portrait], in: Švyturys, Vilnius, 1975, Nr.7, p.12–13, and Jurgis Vanagas „Miesto gyvenamosios aplinkos formavimas: sociologinis aspektas“ [Formation of Urban Residential Environment: the Sociological Aspect]. Vilnius: Technika, 1992. During this research, performed using the qualitative method, 1000 residents of Lazdynai apartments, who had been given questionnaires with quite strict answers, provided their opinion, therefore, the survey, performed in this paper and results of survey in 1974 can be compared only relatively because of different survey methods.

[12] Jurgis Vanagas, „Lazdynai – naujojo Vilniaus forpostas” [Lazdynai – the Outpost of New Vilnius], in: Literatūra ir menas, Vilnius, 1973 m. birželio 23 d., Nr.25 (1386), p. 8–9.

[13] Vytautas Balčiūnas, Jurgis Vanagas, op. cit., p. 10.

[14] Interviu su J.Vanagu [Interview with J. Vanagas], 2013-04-23. Užrašė V. Janušauskaitė, in: V.Janušauskaitės archyvas.

[15] Claes Caldenby, „From Cradle to Grave. Living and Dying in the Urban Modernity”, in: Living and dying in the urban modernity, sudarytojai Claes Caldenby, Ola Wedebrunn, Docomomo Denmark, 2010, p. 5, 7.

[16] Marija Drėmaitė, „Pigiau, daugiau, greičiau. Masinė gyvenamoji statyba ir modernizmo kanonai“ [Cheaper, More, Faster. Mass Residential Construction and Modernism Architecture Norms], in:  Naujasis židinys – Aidai, Vilnius, 2006, Nr. 8, p. 325.

[17] Algimantas Miškinis, Lietuvos urbanistika: istorija, dabartis, ateitis [Lithuanian Urbanism: the History, the Present and Past]. Vilnius : Mintis, 1991, p. 82.

[18] Claes Caldenby, op. cit., p. 14.

[19] Marija Drėmaitė, Vaidas Petrulis, Jūratė Tutlytė, Architektūra sovietinėje Lietuvoje [The Architecture in Soviet Lithuania], Vilnius: Vilniaus dailės akademijos leidykla, 2012, p. 170.

[20] Marija Drėmaitė, „Šiaurės modernizmo įtaka „lietuviškajai architektūros mokyklai“ 1959-1969 m.“ [Northern Modernism Influence on „Lithuanian School of Architecture“ in 1959-1969], in: Menotyra, Vilnius, 2011, T.18. Nr. 4, p. 315–318.

[21]Ibid., p. 325.

[22] Pvz., Jurgis Vanagas, „Miesto gyvenamosios aplinkos formavimas: sociologinis aspektas“ [Formation of Urban Residential Environment: the Sociological Aspect]. Vilnius: Technika, 1992, p. 176.

[23] Marija Drėmaitė, Marija Drėmaitė, „Šiaurės modernizmo įtaka „lietuviškajai architektūros mokyklai“ 1959-1969 m.“ [Northern Modernism Influence on „Lithuanian School of Architecture“ in 1959-1969], in: Menotyra, Vilnius, 2011, T.18. Nr. 4, p. 320.

[24] Vytautas Balčiūnas, Jurgis Vanagas, op. cit., p. 7.

[25] For example, Lazdynų mikrorajono Nr. 4 užstatymo darbų dokumentai (projektinės užduotys, sąmatos, aktai ir kt.) [Documents of development works of Lazdynai micro-district No 4 (design specifications, estimates, acts, etc.)]. Vilniaus miesto vykdomojo komiteto Kapitalinės statybos valdyba, Techninis skyrius, Vilnius, 1974, in: Vilniaus regioninis valstybės archyvas, f. 1095, ap. 4, b. 7, l. 16, 45, 125–128.

[26] Marija Drėmaitė, Vaidas Petrulis, Jūratė Tutlytė, op. cit., p. 162.

[27] Vytautas Balčiūnas, Jurgis Vanagas, op. cit., p. 10.

[28] Ibid., p. 10

[29] Lazdynų gyv. rajono antrasis mikrorajonas: architektūrinė statybinė dalis [The Second Micro-District of Lazdynai Residential District: Architectural and Civil Engineering Part]. Miestų statybos projektavimo institutas, Vilnius, 1969, in: Vilniaus regioninis valstybės archyvas, f.1036, ap.11, b. 504, l. 15. The houses of broken plan were intended to be interconnected “through the inserts”, where additional small rooms were intended. One of the informants, Dalia, due to a small size of the additional room, calls such flats “flats with two rooms and a half”. In 1974, it was found that residents of these apartments were not satisfied with non-standard rooms (Urban-sociological research in Lazdynai Residential District, p. 84).

[30] Vilniaus architektūra [The Architecture of Vilnius], sudarytoja Algė Jankevičienė, Vilnius: Mokslas, 1985, p. 216.

[31] Marija Drėmaitė, Vaidas Petrulis, Jūratė Tutlytė, op. cit., p. 170.

[32] Jurgis Vanagas, „Lazdynai – naujojo Vilniaus forpostas” [Lazdynai – the Outpost of New Vilnius], in: Literatūra ir menas, Vilnius, 1973,m. birželio 23 d., Nr.25 (1386), p. 8.

[33] Vytautas Balčiūnas, Jurgis Vanagas, op. cit., p. 10.

[34] Interviu su J. Vanagu.[Interview with J. Vanagas], 2013-04-23. Užrašė V. Janušauskaitė, in: V.Janušauskaitės archyvas.

[35] Jurgis Vanagas, „Lazdynai – naujojo Vilniaus forpostas“[Lazdynai – the Outpost of New Vilnius], in: Literatūra ir menas, Vilnius, 1973 m. birželio 23 d., Nr.25 (1386), p. 8–9.

[36] Vytautas Balčiūnas, Jurgis Vanagas, op. cit., p. 13.

[37]Jurgis Vanagas, „Lazdynai –sociologinis autoportretas“ [Lazdynai – the Sociological Self-Portrait], in: Švyturys, Vilnius, 1975, Nr.7, p. 13.

[38] Christian Norberg-Schulz, op. Cit., p. 21.

[39] Research in Urban-Sociology of Lazdynai Residential District, p. 27.

[40] Vytenis Imbrasas, op. cit.

[41] Christian Norberg-Schulz, op. cit., p. 6.

[42] Vytautas Čekanauskas, op. cit.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Lazdynai, in: LRT auksinis fondas [LRT Golden Fund]. [interactive], [accessed 29 August 2018],

[45] Vytenis Imbrasas, op. cit.

[46] Lazdynų gyv. Rajono pakrantės mikrorajonas Vilniuje [Pakrantė Micro-District of Lazdynai Residential District in Vilnius]. Miestų statybos projektavimo institutas, Vilnius, 1970, in: Vilniaus regioninis valstybės archyvas, f. 1036, ap.11, b. 660, l. 21.

[47]Jurgis Vanagas, „Lazdynai – naujojo Vilniaus forpostas“ [Lazdynai – the Outpost of New Vilnius], in: Literatūra ir menas, Vilnius, 1973 m. birželio 23 d., Nr.25 (1386), p. 9.

[48] Vytautas Balčiūnas, Jurgis Vanagas, op. cit., p. 10.

[49] Marija Drėmaitė, op. cit., p. 161, 170. The only one type houses that caused problems were 16-storey buildings, the deadline for design of which was intended in the year 1977 (II phase works), still, in 1976 it was suspended “until the issue of construction of 16-storey houses is solved, i.e., for indefinite time” (see Lazdynų gyvenamųjų namų mikrorajono II eilės statybos darbų dokumentai (projektavimo užduotys, sąmata, sąlygos ir t. t.) [Documents of Lazdynai residential micro-district phase II construction works (design specifications, the estimate, terms and conditions, etc.]. Vilniaus miesto vykdomojo komiteto Kapitalinės statybos valdyba, Techninis skyrius, Vilnius, 1975, in: Vilniaus regioninis valstybės archyvas, f. 1095, ap. 4, b.19, l. 6–7).

[50] Werner Rietdorf, Neue Wohngebiete sozialistischer Länder, Berlin: Verlag für Bauwessen, 1976, p. 243.

[51] Algimantas Miškinis, op. cit., p. 98.

[52] Vytautas Balčiūnas, Jurgis Vanagas, op. cit., p. 12–13.

[53] Birutė Žemaitytė, “Kodėl Lazdynai pigesni už Žirmūnus?” [Why is Lazdynai cheaper than Žirmūnai?], in: Žurnalas „Investuok”, [interactive], 15 September 2017, [accessed 28 August 2018],

[54] Vytautas Balčiūnas, op. cit., p. 11–13.

[55] Christian Norberg-Schulz, op. cit., p. 21.

[56] Ibid, p. 21.

[57] David Bieńkowski, Nothing, Vilnius: Mintis, 2007, p. 61.

[58] Claes Caldenby, „From Cradle to Grave. Living and Dying in the Urban Modernity”, p. 38; Ugnė Karaliūnaitė, ”Vilniaus architektas: reikia galvoti ne apie renovaciją, o kaip į miestą grąžinti žmones” [An architect from Vilnius: don‘t do renovation  work prior to returning people to the city], [interactive], 1 March 2013, [accessed 29 August 2018],

[59] Nusikalstamų veikų žinybinio registro duomenų žemėlapis [The Crime Map of Departmental Register of Criminal Offences] [interactive], 2018, [accessed 09 August 2018],

[60] Arūnas Dumalakas, “Vienu patraukliausiu buvęs Vilniaus rajonas turi rimtų bėdų“ [A Vilnius District, an Attractive One Previously, a Troubled One Today], in: Lietuvos rytas, [interactive], 09 April 2018, [accessed 29 August 2018],

[61] Violeta Grigaliūnaitė, “Aplink Vilniaus  mokyklą tveriama tvora papiktino gyventojus: negalėsime praeiti“ [People Outraged at School Building Fencing in Vilnius: no Passing for Residents], [interactive], 16 June 2018, [accessed 27 August 2018],

[62] Mindaugas Pakalnis, “Vilnius. Dezintegracijos iššūkis” [Vilnius. The Challenge of Disintegration], in: ALF03 Miestas. Lūžio taškai, [interactive], 2014, [accessed 29 August 2018],

[63] Vytautas Balčiūnas, Jurgis Vanagas, op. cit., p. 5.

[64] LR kultūros vertybių registras: Lazdynai [The Register of Cultural Values of the Republic of Lithuania: Lazdynai], [interactive], [accessed 29 August 2018],

[65] Rasa Čepaitienė, “Sovietinis kasdienybės paveldas: Žirmūnų atvejis” [Soviet Everyday Life Heritage: Žirmūnai Case], in: Research-Practice Conference “Advanced Protection of Architectural Heritage: Mission (Im)possible?”, Valstybinė kultūros paveldo komisija, 2017, p.106.

[66] Christian Norberg-Schulz, op. cit., p. 190.

[67] Jurgis Vanagas,”Lazdynai – naujojo Vilniaus forpostas “ [Lazdynai – the Outpost of New Vilnius], in:  Literatūra ir menas, Vilnius, 23 June 1973, No.25 (1386), p. 9.

[68] Kevin Andrew Lynch, Image of the City, Cambridge (MA), London:  MIT Press, 1960.

[69] Tomas Grunskis, “Architektas T. Grunskis: K 18 pastatas – kosminis laivas, smigsiantis į Vilniaus veidą“ [Architect T.Grunskis: The  Building K 18 – a Spacecraft to Dive into the Face of Vilnius”, [interactive], 13 July 2018, [accessed 27 August 2018],

[70] Christian Norberg-Schulz, op. cit., p. 23.

[71] Inga Liutkevičienė, ‚ Déjà vu. Vilnius 1974-1990: knyga apie vilniečių gyvenimą, miesto paslaptis pagal paskutinio sovietmečio mero Algirdo Vileikio pasakojimą“ [ Déjà vu. Vilnius in 1974-1990: a book about life of Vilnius residents and city‘s secrets according to the last Soviet mayor of Vilnius  Algirdas Vileikis], Vilnius: BALTO print, 2012, p. 94.

[72] „Lazdynų gyv. rajono Pakrantės mikrorajonas Vilniuje“ [Pakrantė Micro-District of Lazdynai Residential District in Vilnius], l. 10–11.

[73] Mindaugas Pakalnis, op. cit.

[74] Vytenis Imbrasas, op. cit.

[75] The Quality of Life Structured Karoliniškės District Resident Interview , December  2013 – September  2017. Written down by V. Janušauskaitė, in: V.Janušauskaitė archive.