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Typical urban area of large-scale prefab housing in Lithuania.
Typical urban area of large-scale prefab housing in Lithuania.

Transformation of typical Soviet mass housing (from 1950 to the present) 1 the first Khrushchyovkas, brick four-storey walk-up blocks of flats dating from the Khrushchev era, late 1950s. 2 the first blocks to be built in five storeys mainly using large precast concrete panels. Lithuania’s first prefab block of flats was built in 1959. 3 residents have been steadily taking over the blocks. Balconies have been wrapped in glass and ground-floor windows made burglar-proof with iron grilles. 4 small private businesses such as florist’s and barber’s shops appeared on the ground floor after the declaration of independence in 1990 5 official renovation of Soviet blocks of flats began in 2004 after Lithuania became part of the European Union. The frontage was insulated, the wooden window frames were replaced by PVC frames, all balconies were enclosed with glass windows and floor plans were standardized again. The infrastructure between the blocks and the public space was left untouched, except that courtyards filed up with parked cars.
Transformation of typical Soviet mass housing (from 1950 to the present) 1 the first Khrushchyovkas, brick four-storey walk-up blocks of flats dating from the Khrushchev era, late 1950s. 2 the first blocks to be built in five storeys mainly using large precast concrete panels. Lithuania’s first prefab block of flats was built in 1959. 3 residents have been steadily taking over the blocks. Balconies have been wrapped in glass and ground-floor windows made burglar-proof with iron grilles. 4 small private businesses such as florist’s and barber’s shops appeared on the ground floor after the declaration of independence in 1990 5 official renovation of Soviet blocks of flats began in 2004 after Lithuania became part of the European Union. The frontage was insulated, the wooden window frames were replaced by PVC frames, all balconies were enclosed with glass windows and floor plans were standardized again. The infrastructure between the blocks and the public space was left untouched, except that courtyards filed up with parked cars.

From interviews with residents: I’ve lived here for 52 years. Most other residents have moved house at least once. So there is a cycle of changing residents – when old ones die their families rent or sell the flat. I remember when the courtyard was full of children and now it’s usually empty. There’s no sense of community anymore. Joné, an 87-year-old pensioner.
From interviews with residents: I’ve lived here for 52 years. Most other residents have moved house at least once. So there is a cycle of changing residents – when old ones die their families rent or sell the flat. I remember when the courtyard was full of children and now it’s usually empty. There’s no sense of community anymore. Joné, an 87-year-old pensioner.

From interviews with residents: Who would have imagined that as many people live in a single block of flats in a microdistrict as in a small Lithuanian village? What are the differences? The distance between people in mass housing is much smaller. Most are separated from each other by a 12-centimetre-thick wall. Although they hardly know each other’s names. What if we were to see each block as a tiny village...? Tadas, a 32-year-old user interface designer.
From interviews with residents: Who would have imagined that as many people live in a single block of flats in a microdistrict as in a small Lithuanian village? What are the differences? The distance between people in mass housing is much smaller. Most are separated from each other by a 12-centimetre-thick wall. Although they hardly know each other’s names. What if we were to see each block as a tiny village...? Tadas, a 32-year-old user interface designer.

Reorganizing the countryside, a speculative map. While greenhouses and algae cultivation are projected along the principal axis, other areas have been left to nature.
Reorganizing the countryside, a speculative map. While greenhouses and algae cultivation are projected along the principal axis, other areas have been left to nature.

Section through Lithuania. The Hyperloop gets you across the country from the Baltic Sea to Vilnius in 30 minutes.
Section through Lithuania. The Hyperloop gets you across the country from the Baltic Sea to Vilnius in 30 minutes.

Bolo#Pleasure Futurists, a speculative facade. One of the bolos. Here, luxury is regarded as an opportunity to have fun without shame, an urban experiment in which Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoie is within everyone’s budget.
Bolo#Pleasure Futurists, a speculative facade. One of the bolos. Here, luxury is regarded as an opportunity to have fun without shame, an urban experiment in which Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoie is within everyone’s budget.

Bolo News, a speculative newspaper that keeps you updated on Bolotopia’s development.
Bolo News, a speculative newspaper that keeps you updated on Bolotopia’s development.




PROJECTINDEX
HONOURABLE MENTION
RECYCLING UTOPIA: IN PROGRESS
Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten

My research focuses on the phenomenon of Socialist mass housing in Lithuania. This industrialized housing was the physical outcome of the Utopian promise to provide every Soviet family with its own apartment. In the 1990s Lithuania underwent radical changes in the wake of its transformation from a Soviet Socialist system into a democratic and independent state. Surrounded by proliferating shopping malls, the physical outcome of capitalism, the Soviet mass housing neighbourhoods remained unchanging relics of what had been built sixty years earlier. What is the next step in the story of these prefabricated house-machines (as Le Corbusier would call them)? By embracing speculation as a method, I have sought to explore possible and/or impossible future scenarios and ask myself, ‘What if...?’
New systems and ideologies always replace or recycle previous ones. None is perfect but every Utopia promises something new.
Just imagine Lithuania after X number of years: Massive investments in biotechnologies have led this country once again to a new system with a mysterious name: FALC (Fully Automated Luxury Communism). This system is powering the reorganization of the country and its cities.
The Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys and other Utopians of the 1960s dreamt of a society freed by automation. That society has now arrived, a ludic society that can afford to live in spontaneous luxury. The question in the future will be: What does luxury mean for you? Villa Savoie? A single-family house? A vagabond life unattached to any particular place or regulations? Is time the ultimate luxury or should it be guaranteed as a basic income for everyone? What, at the end of the day, would you do if you had time?
My project adapts the theory of ‘bolos’; independent, decentralized units of people that assemble according to ‘nima’ (cultural background, common interest and time) that they share. By playing with speculations and paradoxes, I am experimenting with different concepts of luxury, work, leisure, equality and collectivity. My design suggests a series of speculative scenarios as to how, in X years from now, Žirmūnai (the first Socialist residential district in Lithuania) and blocks of flats (the purest and most adaptable of structures) can change into an experimental playground of ideas and theories.