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Vilnius Book Festival: - READING (THE) CITY

SEP 2013

The city we think, talk, and dream about, is the city we are willing to create. With “Reading (the) city” events during the Vilnius book festival we are seeking to bring forward culture of speaking about the city spaces in Lithuania and introduce interesting practices of forreign magazines. What are the topics and means to discuss the city publicly? How should the dialogue between the inhabitants and the builders would look like? What is the role of architecture in all this? 

Four conversation events will take place during the festival. The first event will discuss the Lithuanian context from the position of architectural press. This will include assesing existing situation and new initiatives currently in formation. The second conversation will involve representatives from publications Volume (The Netherlands) and Archpoto (Italy). It will give an overview about the changing landscape of architectural press around the world. The third event will present innovative Architectural [publications] fund’s platform. The last event will attempt to construct interdisciplinary scenario in terms of speaking about space: two participants (sociologist and architect) will discuss about reading, books, and library spaces. 

During the festival reading room will be set for visitors to browse and read architectural magazines from around the world and  Architectural [conversation] fund’s books, recommended by its speakers.





September 14th (Saturday)


Reading (the) city 1 / 5 pm (Hall 3)

Discussion about the relation of architect and society. How does it look like in Lithuania? What is/should be the role of architectural press?

Moderator – Audra Čepkauskaitė, participants – Julija Reklaitė, Martynas Mankus, Liutauras Nekrošius, Andrius Ropolas.


Architects live in society and society lives in the realizations of architects’ visions. Architecture as culture is everyone’s business. How diverse and multivocal society can encourage architecture’s and its created environment’s quality? What is the role of changing and renewing architectural press in it? What discourses it creates? What speakers and listeners it is growing? Do specialist tribunes, conversations in the circles of enthusiasts and ambitions to educate create equivocal space for public discussion? 


Reading (the) city 2 / 6 pm (Hall 3)

Architecture as a text.  

Participants – Marija Drėmaitė, Indrė Ruseckaitė, Julija Reklaitė, Viktorija Šiaulytė and others.


Public discussion about new Architectural [publications] fund’s platform, its content and means of distribution. In the discussion about architecture as a text two positions will be elaborated. The first position asks how to effectively “read” – interpret and analyze – phenomena of architectural/urban/visual culture. The second, how to “write” it – transmit and communicate to the reader and receive feedback.  


Reading (the) city 3 / 8 pm (Hall 2)

Conversation and discussion about architectural criticism and the role of magazine today

Participants – Volume / Archis Foundation director Lilet Breddels, Archphoto editor Emanuele Piccardo (videobridge), PUPA (Justina Muliuolytė and Tadas Jonauskis). Discussion in English.


Changing economic and cultural contexts inevitably lead to transformations in the sphere of architectural press – large architectural magazines are adjusting their strategies of operation; portion of the market is taken over by the small circulation publications, which operate differently. Participants of the event will talk about new forms, scales, editing and distributing models, increasing multidisciplinarity and future potential of architectural magazines.


September 15th (Sunday)


Reading (the) city 4 / 12 pm (Hall 1)

Conversation about books, reading and library space

Moderator – Ūla Tornau, participants – Rolandas Palekas, Dalia Čiupilaitė. 


What place library occupies within a contemporary urban space and what functions it can perform? Did library succeed in becoming important extension of contemporary urban space? What different libraries exist and what different experiences their users have? Can we talk about contemporary and old-style libraries? Did reading experiences have changed lately?

Art historian Ūla Tornau will talk about these questions with architect Rolandas Palekas, an author of new Vilnius University library which opened 2012 and Dalia Čiupailaitė, who is researching urban transformations of Vilnius and has accumulated experiences in various libraries in Lithuania and abroad. 






It is quite evident that in Lithuania exists a void of talking and writing about city space in the public sphere. Few existing magazines which deal with architecture or urbanism take on a narrow perspective on their respective fields. Disciplinary territories are clearly demarcated and cross-pollination among disciplines is rarely happening. Some heritage problems are thrown in here, some critique of consumerism there, but overall the discourse is isolated, technocratic language prevalent, identity protected. It seems that those few magazines are written by architects with intended audience of architects who live in the world of architects and are not affected (and do not affect) the the society at large. The impression is that specialists within their specializations do not read the city and do not take city seriously. The dialogues that occasionally come up typically remain within the national borders – rarely texts are written in any other language than Lithuanian, rarely theoretical and practical intermixing occurs, and rarely there is an acknowledgment that other fields of inquiry might be of any help trying to deal with spatial problems.  


During the large events dedicated to press and books so far there have been very occasional ones presenting architectural publishing and media in broader sense. However, it becomes apparent that in Lithuania as well there is a growing interest to look at architecture not only from strictly technical side, but to analyze city space from various discourses, which would be interesting and relevant not only for architects. These cross-disciplinary (or non-disciplinary) conversations are urgently needed, especially in the post-socialist context where transformations of the cities are rapid and full of experimental possibilities. Thus we are interested in publications that would not be strictly academic (thus limited in their forms of expression and circulation) but magazines which have wider reach and appeal to specialists and non-specialists alike interested in architecture and social, political, and other angles within the urban setting.


With the events of READING (THE) CITY at the Vilnius book festival we want to bring forth culture of speaking about city spaces and introduce interesting practices of magazines and journals from abroad. We want to talk about discourses that are – or potentially could be – reflected in the architectural press. At the same time, this will serve as an opportunity to activate fresh initiatives, which are going beyond one-directional treatment of architecture and isolation of architectural reading and writing.




Materials for the reading room are kindly donated by Antalis: