The Mayor of the Capital City Discussed the Growing Vilnius with the Experts of the International UNESCO Mission

Remigijus Šimašius, the Mayor of Vilnius, met with Paul Drury and Burcu Ozdemir, experts of the international UNESCO/ICOMOS mission in Vilnius, and discussed territories that are important for the sustainable development of the city and presented the policy for protecting the cultural heritage of Vilnius and the exceptional importance assigned to the public interest.

Mayor R. Šimašius presented Vilnius as the fastest growing city in the region, the attractiveness of the capital city and its openness to good ideas, a city that renews itself, grows, and lives up to the image of a capital in the twenty-first century due to cultural heritage, while Mindaugas Pakalnis, the chief architect of the city, presented the challenges of multi-storey buildings in the city centre and the control as well as the legal framework of such buildings. It was discussed that public international architecture contests are very important to the growing city, particularly when the planned buildings are important to the panoramas of the new city centre and the Old Town.

In territories that are special from an urban point of view, such as the new centre of Vilnius on the right bank of Neris and Misionierių sodai (the Missionaries’ Gardens), it is particularly important to evaluate the impact of buildings on the protection of the Old Town, the cityscape, the traffic of pedestrians and cyclists, and public spaces of the city. In the context of sustainable development, these important centre territories are still losing to the city periphery, where more and more Vilnius residents move to live. At the moment, there are only 19,500 residents in the Old Town. Therefore, it is important for Vilnius to ensure the recovery of such territories as the unique territory from the Missionaries’ Monastery to the river Vilnia, to encourage people to come back to live in the Old Town, to make it pleasant for living, working, and resting.

This summer, the Council of the city approved the project “k18B” of a new multi-storey building, whose original idea was selected during an international contest. This created favourable conditions for seeking the advice of cultural heritage professionals and the public regarding the project. Such discussions help to find the best solution. Integrating the new property into the cityscape of the new centre in a sustainable manner, preserving the cityscape and helping to create the image of a modern city centre on the right bank of Neris as well as creating a beautiful area from the White Bridge to the Europa Square is particularly important for the city. The right bank of Neris is an example of a successfully implemented vision, while the new “k18B” project will become a great addition, help to complete the “hill” composition, and create the image of a modern city centre as well as a high-quality environment suitable for the city centre.

Excellent examples that are or were implemented in the Old Town or in its protection zone were presented to the experts: the Bernardinai Garden, the Park of Architecture, Tymo quarter and Krivių quarter that are being restored, the restoration of the territory of the Great Synagogue, etc.

The experts of UNESCO and World Heritage and International Council on Monuments and Sites came to attend meetings of technical and expert nature in Vilnius to collect information; they plan to give recommendations in the middle of January of the next year.