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THE CALL IS OPEN! INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL “A CHURCH IS NOT A CHURCH”

2017-01-30
THE CALL IS OPEN! INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL “A CHURCH IS NOT A CHURCH”
Students from Germany and Lithuania are invited to apply to “A Church Is Not A Church” – an International Summer School to Reveal and Communicate (De)Secularised Architectural Heritage in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Summer School organized by the Faculty of Architecture of the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (Lithuania), in cooperation with baladilab (http://baladilab.com, Germany).
 
WHAT: The summer school aims at re-searching and making visible for everybody the history of several religious buildings in the historical centre of Vilnius. The Aim is to initiate and reinforce the link between students, academics and inhabitants towards the histories and the built heritage of the old quarter of the city. Students from Lithuania and Germany will investigate the history of several religious buildings (Catholic churches, Lutherans and Calvinist churches, as well as a Synagogue and a Karaite Kenesa) in a participatory process with the inhabitants and users of the old centre of the city.

WHEN: 1-14 September 2017

WHERE: Vilnius, Lithuania

PARTICIPANTS: Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning students from Lithuania and Germany.

HOW: Apply to us (indre.ruseckaite@vgtu.lt) and at the same time to the DAAD to get a grant to cover the expenses of the Summer School, the travel and accommodation costs. DAAD grant is available for the German students only. The application should include a cv, a letter of motivation and a selection of two previous projects (related to the topic).  Deadline - 9th of June.

ECTS: 4
 
EXPENSES: 650 € are the costs to participate. They can be fully covered by a DAAD grant. Check the homepage https://goeast.daad.de/de/25457/index.html . The fees and the grant are for the German students only.
 
AIMS and CONTENT
The summer school proposed by the Faculty of Architecture of the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (Lithuania), in cooperation with baladilab (Germany), aims at re-searching and making visible for everybody the history of several religious buildings in the historical centre of Vilnius. The Aim is to initiate and reinforce the link between students, academics and inhabitants towards the histories and the built heritage of the old quarter of the city.
Students from Lithuania and Germany (architecture and urban design) will investigate the history of several religious buildings (Catholic churches, Lutherans and Calvinist churches, as well as a Synagogue and a Karaite Kenesa) in a participatory process with the inhabitants and users of the old centre of the city. By means of oral history methods and archive re-search, the students will recompose the former diverse uses of those buildings: initially built as a religious structures, during the Soviet time were used as a theatre, a prison, a garage etc.
Different methods of participation and oral history will be used, to find a suitable form to approach the hidden memories of the area. The big novelty of this approach regards the fact of connecting the until now merely unexplored history of the buildings with the myths and narratives related to the places. The summer school will end with a one-day event, where the students, together with the team and the inhabitants, will reactivate those buildings  by presenting on spot their stories and their meaning as tangible and in-tangible heritage.
The produced material will afterwards be handed to the responsible of those religious buildings, so to be used as info-material for upcoming events and city festivals.
The summer school has two aims: on the one hand, it will give students the possibility to develop their soft skills working in a cross-cultural group getting to know the way of working in the respective universities, to experience participatory processes and to get used to oral history methods. On the other hand, they will learn how to present their researches and data in a simple way to address also the non-specialist public during the one-day-open door at the end of the summer school.
 
STATE OF THE ART: SECULARISED SACRAL BUILDINGS IN VILNIUS
Vilnius is one of The Central Europe cities which faced a strong interaction between the Eastern and Western cultures, being at the border between the Greek, Byzantine and Latin traditions. Buildings from the former Orthodox Christian, Catholics, as well as Armenian Catholics, Muslims, Karaites and Jewish communities are today significant historical, architectural and urban landmarks. They shape the medieval plan and dynamic skyline of Vilnius Old Town.  The religious life of Vilnius changed many a time, especially during the occupations, wars and the Holocaust, but the sacral buildings themselves had remained. The Soviet regime era was not an exception: most of the Catholic churches and sacral buildings of other religious denominations were closed, plundered, secularised and converted into warehouses, prisons, factories, sport halls, museums, cinema theatres, workshops, flats, offices, etc. or simply left unused. Closing or converting the sacral buildings, vanishing their religious symbolic elements, interior and equipment was the obvious Soviet strategy for the secularisation of society. On the other hand, the invasions of alien purposes and structures into sacral buildings was a kind of guarantee for them not to get abandoned and destroyed. After the Restoration of Independence of Lithuania in 1990, complicated processes of de-secularisation took place: some of the buildings were returned back to their original owners, but that did not necessarily mean that they started to operate as sacral buildings again – some of them are standing abandoned and wait. The recent 70 years seem to be just a short episode for the sacral buildings, nevertheless it brought the most visible and drastic changes; moreover the closed and misused sacral buildings became the part of “hidden and misheard” history of Vilnius which need to be revealed and told. With our Summer School we target this need, working with the students to make them aware that each historical building hides a story which is important from the architectural values but also from the human point of view. Moreover, the binational team will coach the students together, to expose the students from Vilnius and Germany to diverse way of teaching. The summer school will take place at the University of Vilnius to introduce the German students to the architecture curriculum of the faculty. The students will be also exposed to the daily life of the inhabitants through the interviews and surveys they will have to do in the historical centre of the city.
 
VENUE
The summer school will be launched at the University of Vilnius: one day open lectures will take place at the campus to present the project and various theoretical topics related to it. These lectures will be open to all the students.
During the following days, the summer school will take place directly in the old sacral buildings in the historical centre of Vilnius. The fact of working directly on the spot will facilitate the communication between the group of students and the inhabitants. Moreover, those spaces will become open platforms for exchanging information, stories and memories, and so becoming a new heterotopic space, alienating it from its original purpose, in line with its past of being a “neutral” space for hosting new functions.
 
EXPECTED OUTCOMES
> PRACTICAL RESULTS
In the timeframe of the summer school students and team will record interviews with the inhabitants, transcribe and organise those narratives in main topics which will be defined among the group.
Each group will work out the history of the buildingassigned, to reconstruct its past uses, the reasons behind those changes of purposes, and the consequences these changes had in the direct urban surrounding. These results will be worked out so to produce a simple hand-out, to be give to the authorities in charge of the building now. This hand-out should be considered as a reproducible document, which can be used during city festivals (a.o. Open Vilnius) as an information paper about the building.
During the last days of the summer school, students and team will work together to graphically represent the past uses of the buildings, the relations with its urban surroundings and the narratives of the inhabitants. Students will also organise the closing event, which will take place on the last day in each analysed building. During this event open to the public, students will present their results and outcomes.
The final presentation will take place at the VGTU campus, where all the students participating to the summer school will present their research to their colleagues, Professors and Dean.
 
> EDUCATIONAL RESULTS
During the summer school, students will recognise on the one hand that besides the obvious evidences, there is still a lot to learn and research about the historic architecture of the centre of Vilnius. On the other hand, that to understand architecture it is necessary to get in touch with the people who use the buildings, overcoming stereotypes, political and social barriers. By working in close contact with the inhabitants, the students will learn that their own specific critical opinions have to be questioned and reviewed, in a continu-ous exchange of reflections and information.
This exchange of objective data and subjective memories between the category of professionals, students and inhabitants will have an enormous impact in reinforcing the perception of the great value of the tangible and intangible heritage of Vilnius.
Addressing both Lithuanian and German students will give the students the chance to get to know the various methods of researching approaches of the different architecture schools.
Moreover, the fact of working together for a common goal will contribute to overcome linguistic and cultural and social barriers, bringing the students closer in a spontaneous and natural way.
 
PARTICIPATION AS A WAY OF SHARING HERITAGE
It will be possible to revive the history of the sacral buildings only thanks to the active participation of the inhabitants of the city.
The methodology of the summer school is based on working together with the people who witnessed the diverse uses of those buildings in the past and today, to reconstruct with them those changes, and on the other hand, to collect the narratives and very personal opinions, feelings, activities related to those changes.
The fact of involving the people in such a fundamental role for the research will show both the students and the inhabitants, that everybody is crucial for the preservation of the history of heritage buildings.
Participatory procedures are becoming quite common in Europe, for the fact that they facilitate amongst others the acceptance from the users and generate responsibilities for the long-term maintenance.
Since very few years, participatory procedures are becoming widespread also in Vilnius, aimed at waking up a general awareness for the problems of the city, and moreover trying to show that it is possible, catalysing the energies of all the inhabitants, to improve and change things.
The fact of involving Lithuanian and German students in coaching a participatory process will expose them to the difficulties of it, making them aware of the positive and negative aspect of such a method.
 
CORE TEAM
Faculty of Architecture of the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University
- Dalius Vrubliauskas, architect, Ass. Prof., Faculty of Architecture in VGTU. Dalius graduated as Conservation Architect from Vilnius Academy of Arts in 1986 and has been acting as coordinator for several TA projects as Vilnius Old Town Revitalization Strategy (1994-1996), project manager of InterSAVE Vilnius (2000-2003), senior researcher at ENTRUST (Empowering Neighborhoods through Recourse and Synergies with Trade) by EC under the 5th Framework RTD Programme/KA 4 'City of Tomorrow and Cultural Heritage'(2002-2004). Participated in physical research projects on Built Heritage in Lithuania, published related articles (in Lithuanian) on subjects of safeguarding of Heritage, is the author of study book “The adaptation of the sacral buildings. The case of the St. Marry the Virgin the Comforter of Vilnius”. (2010)
- Indrė Ruseckaitė, Phd, architect, Ass. Prof., Faculty of Architecture in VGTU. Indrė is curator at Architecture fund [excursion] guiding the excursions around conventional modernist heritage, co-founder of Karoliniškės architecture laboratory /K-LAB (http://www.k-lab.lt/) – open communication platform established in one of the first mod-ernist districts – Karoliniškės – in Vilnius, where Indrė curated the series of experimental walks with locals exploring the alternative means and forms of neglected modernist legacy.
- Aistė Galaunytė, architect, Phd student Faculty of Architecture in VGTU, Department of Architecture Fundamentals and Theory.
 
baladilab
- Vittoria Capresi, Phd, architect, she works as a post-PhD the Technical University of Berlin, Habitat Unit. From 2011 until 2014 she was teaching as Associate Professor of History of Architecture at the GUC, Department of Architecture.
- Barbara Pampe, project manager in the field of pedagogical architecture at the Montag Stiftung Jugend und Gesellschaft, Bonn. From 2011 until 2014 she was teaching as Associ-ate Professor of Architecture Design at the German University in Cairo – GUC.
Since 2011 Barbara Pampe and Vittoria Capresi founded baladilab, to promote activities related to the perception and re-appropriation of spaces and architectures. Vittoria Capresi and Barbara Pampe initiated and coached several projects to raise the awareness of the tangible and intangible heritage of Downtown Cairo. Worth to be mentioned here are the Summer School Downtown Cairo, a Visible City (Cairo, 2013) and the following book published by Jovis: Downtown Cairo. Architecture and Stories. Berlin: Jovis, 2015