International Summer School on Sources of Urbanity in Former Mono-functional Towns

Visaginas, August 22 – September 4

In many respects Visaginas can be taken as a showcase of the risks involved in the transition from a town- reliant on the external top-down allocation of resources and work force, to a town compelled to survive in a competitive environment of a multilateral and multi-scalar determination of resources and workplaces. The urban structure and services of Visaginas were planned and built from scratch in the context of the short-term economic abundance related to the project of the adjacent Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (1975-2009). For this reason, Visaginas was considered to be one of Soviet Lithuania’s best examples of a centrally planned mono-functional urban unit, highly successful in terms of architectural decisions, quality of living and human capital. From the 1990s – due to the gradual shutting down of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant as a consequence of Lithuania’s EU accession, largely determined by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 –, the town has stopped growing, with concomitant social phenomena of increasing unemployment, dwellers’ anxiety about the future and around 20 percent population decline.