Not skyscrapers, but safer streets, public spaces and greenery change the city of Vilnius
Facing the climate change cities are looking for solutions to protect residents from emerging pandemics by humanizing urbanized areas – providing them more security, infuse more nature and beauty. This was discussed at the international conference held on November 9-11, organized by Vilnius Gediminas Technical University.
Vilnius was invited to present case studies on streets humanization and green infrastructure. “The quality of life in a modern city is assessed not only by the percentage of green spaces, although Vilnius is the leader in Europe according to this indicator, but also by their quality and adaptation to residents’ recreation and activities. Recently, there has been a rapid redevelopment of existing streets and adjacent public spaces and green spaces in Vilnius. The final goal – residents ability to experience more positive emotions, feel safer, have fun and find a connection with nature. A lively, aesthetically maintained street is also important for the image of the city,” says Dr. Dalia Bardauskienė.
The conference members discussed criteria for the humanization of public spaces and streets in New Town: convenience, sustainable mobility (streets with reduced traffic, pedestrian paths, bicycle paths, parking systems); CO2 emission reduction (health of 50% of the population depends on the environment, including the streets); creation of open spaces, landscaping, artistry. The street as a social and economic engine with cultural and economic activities for communities – mini festivals, street markets, concerts, etc.
The “Green Wave of Vilnius” – an ambitious goal set in the fall of 2021 to turn all city streets greener and more pleasant within two years by planting more than 100,000 trees. trees, 10 million bushes and 300 thousand creepers. City covers the territory of 400 sq. km and 42 percent of it consists of forests, greenery and nature protected areas, – even though special attention is paid to the management of planted greeneries, that are used by residents. Professional arborists, gardeners, ecologists, and landscape architects work in the municipal units. The green areas must be evaluated already in the project proposals stage of the construction project. When issuing construction permits, it is reviewed whether the projects are properly linked to the green areas.
Citizens are invited to take part in planting taluks, to donate trees. New mowing is carried out, seeds are allowed to mature in part of the street dividers and parcels, and shorter lawns are maintained in residential areas.
For the management of city’s challenges and inhabitant’s engagement in the decision-making process Vilnius municipality is using smart solutions. About 100 web-based e-services are provided for residents and businesses (licenses, archive certificates, different type of permissions, applications for youth projects, permission for protected green pruning, etc.). Vilnius has a public access to the spatial data portal, which provides an opportunity to view, visualize and download information of interest (public and social services, urban planning, districts, administration and etc.). Vilnius gives ability to evaluate and analyze data by viewing information on an interactive map.
After the conference, the participants were invited to the study tour in the New Town. Here we can see huge changes even though part of the streets and public spaces are still under the process of rehabilitation.
Project‘s coordinator – Vilnius Tech University, Lithuania.
Vilniaus city municipality, Lithuania
Institute for Training of Personnel in International Organizations, Bulgaria
Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
University of Granada, Spain
Foundation for Urban Innovation, Italy
Municipality of Bologna, Italy