Housing blocks in Anykščiai

Team: Office De Architectura
Status: Feasibility study
Location: Anykščiai, Lithuania
Area: 32 400 m²
Year: 2022

More than half of Lithuania’s population lives in 30 years or older mass-housing block areas. A rapid renovation program is currently ongoing, however, still, only 11% of buildings are renovated (as of 2022). This number is both a challenge to speed up the process, but also a hope that more viable and socially beneficial renovation concepts can be implemented at a large scale in contrast to the existing “foam up the bricks” approach.

The municipality of Anykščiai tasked us to envision a new concept for renovating the social housing area in the city centre. After analyzing existing approaches and the legislative environment we suggested a bold but practical approach consisting of 3 steps – 1. Upgrading public spaces between the buildings, 2. Introducing commercial functions and extensions on the ground floor and the creation of private gardens, 3. New renovation concept of the buildings which offer new qualities inside.

Tackling the main challenge of the existing approach of renovation when the housing block is renovated in one style – the agreement between residents, we suggested a new concept where a block is split into 5-6 new ‘houses’ and the agreement has to be reached among fewer residents. This also offers a new urban character – instead of a typical big socialist housing block in the city centre, more contextual smaller-scale buildings are present.

For the housing blocks further from the centre in the historically unbuilt area and regarding a higher number of elderly residents we suggested envisioning houses integrated with nature.

All housing blocks in the studied area are constructed from bricks, this allows easy enlargement of the windows. For the residents, we provided 3 options – 1. Leave it as it is, 2. Lower windows to create a seating area, 3. Align windows with the floor.

Our urban concept will serve as a basis for upcoming public renovation competitions in Anykščiai.