When someone mentions Europe the first image that comes
to my mind is that of a city. Cities like Brussels, London, Paris and Amsterdam
are the landmarks that define Europe today. However, Europe is not only a
bundle of metropolises. Innumerable amounts of villages, suburbs and outlying
areas contribute to Europe‘s wealth no less than major towns. Strangely enough
nowadays Europe is mostly focused on the expansion of cities. Many people
living outside the city or in the slums are left behind and endure poverty.
For this and similar issues to be solved changes and improvements must be made in Europe’s architecture and infrastructure.
Future architecture in Europe must be different. It is my belief and my vision that architecture of 2030 should be more democratic, it should serve everyone, not only the affluent. Currently architecture is seen as a matter for the rich and wealthy. It serves as a tool to create aesthetically pleasing landscapes and structures. It is architects who can contribute to the well-being of the poor. Although poverty is often unnoticed, it lies in the very hearts of cities. For example, in Vilnius, Lithuania, the contrast between poverty and wealth can be seen in the same street. At one side of it stand the luxurious business center and municipality sky-scrapers and across the street there are slums, gravel roads and people living in indigence. Likewise situation is found in Madrid. Just a 15-minute drive away from the rattling city centre lies a slum the size of a small town. Sadly, there are plentiful of cities like these, thus the mission of architects is to change this unfortunate situation. The key to helping the poor is designing cheap, compact and comfortable houses out of recycled materials and litter. Even now there are examples around the world of the people who have built their own houses out of used bottles, tires and even storage containers. I am convinced that in the future with the help of architects and volunteers the trend of building houses out of recycled matter is going to spread all over Europe and will help to minimize poverty.
While accommodation and its quality is an urgent problem in Europe, infrastructural integration is a sensitive topic as well. Though Europe is not that colossal compared to the rest of the world, there still are plenty of isolated areas. In some cases inhabitants from minor towns have little or no possibilities to migrate within Europe. The local people are trapped inside small villages to endure poverty with almost no possibilities to escape either due to the lack of transportation means or because they simply cannot afford travelling costs. As we all know, an essential pillar of the European Union is equality. Hence choosing a city to live in and improve one’s life quality should not be a privilege, but rather a personal choice, optional for every European. The way to solve this particular issue until 2030 is to create a net of specific cities inside Europe and connect them with fast and efficient transportation lines. Cities as such would be positioned in a certain distance from each other to cover the entire continent, therefore, citizens from outlying areas could reach them in a short period of time. After getting in one of the cities the journey to a selected destination would continue on a fast-speed lane of modern transport like “maglev” trains (magnetically levitating trains). At the end of each transportation lane would stand related cities. These towns would exist under the shared laws and standards of Europe. Thus every citizen would have the same chances at getting a well paid job, free healthcare and education like anywhere in Europe. Ultimately, living in such a city would mean having a reasonable life quality. In the long run the goal of this European-wide city net is helping to eliminate or to at least minimize poverty by giving people the ability to choose where and how they want to live.
After all, I am optimistic about Europe’s future. Paradoxically,
we are struggling to solve global issues, and at the same time we are
generating an increasing number of new problems every day. Europe is trying to
deal with all sorts of challenges, including architectural ones. With this in
mind, it is clear that much has to be changed or improved until 2030. However,
I personally believe that future architects and engineers in cooperation with experts
of complementary specialties will help to minimize poverty and to maintain
reasonable lifestyle for every human being in Europe.
The second prize was awarded to: Rokas Stasiulis.