Historical support for historical buildings: Vilnius to fund restoration of facades and balconies

Photo by Saulius Žiūra

The City of Vilnius is renewing its funding scheme for the external restoration of culturally valuable buildings. From now on, owners of historical buildings in other districts, not only in the Old Town, can apply for co-financing. The rate of funding will increase from 40% to 60% for the exterior of buildings and up to 80% for the repair or restoration of balconies and other facade elements in a state of disrepair. Support will also be provided for the renovation or restoration of wooden architecture and wooden windows and doors.

“Vilnius is rich in unique architecture, but time has taken its toll and many of our city’s historic buildings are in an unacceptable state. It is the view of these places that gives the first impression of the capital, which is why we are offering the city’s help in renovating its cultural heritage. I invite the residents of Vilnius to take advantage of this support in order to live more comfortably in historical buildings and preserve the city’s character,” said Valdas Benkunskas, Mayor of Vilnius.

The new procedure was approved today by the Vilnius City Council.

More than 100 heritage sites and buildings or parts of buildings in heritage areas have already been restored with the support granted since 2018. The renovation of balconies has been supported since 2015, and more than a thousand balconies have been renovated since then.

“Until now, most of the support has been for buildings in the old town. We want to encourage residents of buildings in other heritage areas, including those far from the city centre, to take advantage of the incentives offered by the municipality,” urges Donata Armakauskaitė, head of the Vilnius City Council’s Cultural Heritage Protection Department.

The new Vilnius Heritage Programme combines the three previous funding programmes: support for the exterior management of buildings in the Old Town, support for the exterior management of buildings in the cultural heritage sites (Antakalnis, Naujamiestis, Žvėrynas, Rasų Colony, Šnipiškės) and support for the management of balconies in a state of emergency, and provides more targeted support for the management of historic wooden architecture. One line of funding is dedicated to the restoration of authentic wooden windows and doors, or the restoration of those that have not survived on the basis of iconographic material.

Owners of cultural heritage sites throughout Vilnius can now apply for support. You can check whether a building is included in the Register of Cultural Heritage here.

Support is available not only for buildings included in the Register of Cultural Heritage, but also for buildings located in cultural heritage sites such as the Old Town, Antakalnis, Naujamiestis, Žvėrynas, Rasų Colony, Tuputiškės, Skansen and Piromont.

Armakauskaitė encourages owners of wooden buildings to take advantage of the support. “In Antakalnis, Žvėrynas, Šnipiškės, Užupis and other districts you can find truly exceptional wooden architecture. Europe is currently experiencing a renaissance of wooden architecture, and the quality of our woodworkers is world-class. This is confirmed by the fact that the Museum of Wooden Urban Architecture in Vilnius has won several awards for its work on the building at 52 Polocko Street,” says D. Armakauskaitė. According to her, historic wooden buildings that have been adapted to life and retained their uniqueness enrich the city and create a special atmosphere.

Partial funding is available to building owners – residents, businesses and building managers – municipalities and building managers.

The funding can be used to renovate the entire façade and roof of a building, as well as balconies and other dilapidated façade elements in apartment blocks, and to renovate or restore authentic wooden windows and their frames, shutters and doors and their metal elements in buildings located in heritage sites.

The Municipality covers 60% of the cost of renovating the facades of buildings listed in the Register of Cultural Property and located in cultural heritage sites, and 80% of the cost of renovating balconies and other elements of the facade in a state of emergency. For the renovation of valuable wooden architecture, 70% of the management costs are covered. For these buildings, all management works are co-financed, except for interior decoration, insulation, installation of new partitions, installation, repair or reconstruction of heating, sewage and water supply systems. The municipality will also finance up to 70% of the costs of design, studies and expertise, if necessary.

A fixed amount of aid has been set for the renovation or reconstruction of wooden windows and doors: EUR 900 per square metre for the restoration or renovation of windows and their elements, and EUR 8,000 for the restoration or renovation of doors.

A call for applications under the new scheme will be launched at the beginning of January next year. Contracts signed this year will also remain valid and funding will be granted under the same conditions as before.

The Vilnius City Council allocates almost €1 million each year for the renovation of the facades of historic buildings, but the need is much greater. Last year alone, 75 applications were submitted for partial funding.

The funding is administered by Vilniaus senamiesčio valdymo agentūra (the Vilnius Old Town Management Agency).