SIKON is an annual contest for the students of architecture which has become a phenomenon. Its origins can be traced back to 1983 when now-famous architects Audrius Ambrasas, Gintaras Čaikauskas and Audrys Karalius out forward the idea of organising the very first contest. The contest is free from academic restrictions and allows one see one’s own artwork in a broader, bolder and more conceptual manner. Since 2004, the contest has been organised as a workshop in many different locations in Lithuania, and has sought to address various problematic issues and discuss topics of interest.
Making the lists in different cities and regions could be assisted by the regional authorities and in some cases the assistance could arrive from two sources, the region and the state with the provision that each object constructed 50 years ago should be protected. We already have some list making practice. Irena Kliobavičiūtė made a great job in describing their properties. In my opinion, the said lists contain too of much historical truth and too little of architectural value. I believe we could think of optimisation, probably hard and even painful.
I wish that urban life was discussed and talked about more frequently. We must not only make projects but also base our judgement of a wider context and raise bold questions on the quality of the environment and cities we live in. Lithuanian universities should also change their stagnant and outdated position. Instead of simply teaching the trade, they should teach one to reason. Nonetheless, the discourse of discussion is already there and one can see more and more commendable initiatives for quality architecture. There have even emerged non-governmental sub-elderships that seek to take proper care of the neighbourhood environment, and the topic of the upcoming Architecture Fund lecture series is architectural policy. Matas Šiupšinškas’s straightforward texts and Elena Archipovaitė’s calls to mobilise the community of urbanism are of great importance. So, there is still much to be done.
The re-discovery of regional modernist interpretation and its continuation should have an impact on the heritage strategy based on a holistic approach and the interplay of the material and non-material which gives the place its special aura. The non-material aspect of the heritage sites reveals itself as not only as the development of a country, city or any other location, composed of layers and layers of the official and unofficial history marking the memories of various people, organisation and places, reflected through the architectural form or the exposure of the canonical aesthetic principles allowing one to talk about the space as an object of art. The features resembling the aura of the place play special role in this process. In other words, it is the aura of the place that should be under protection, not the individual authentic monuments. In Kaunas, it is very closely related to the process of its becoming a modern city inspired by the status of “temporary capital”.
Are there firm manifestations of a different, non-commercial Lithuanian architecture? Is there any prospect for them? I believe there is, yet to a certain degree and under certain conditions. The first thing we need is a well-developed civil society and at small affinity groups, at least in the beginning. It is no doubt that the said goal will be harder to achieve in a large city torn apart by disagreement rather in a small town or community where one can find it easier to meet people sharing the same ideas and to put them into effect in public. I’m sure such affinity groups can be found in large cities as well, however, they are usually gathered on social networking sites rather than public spaces. Another condition is the maturity of the architect both as a specialist and citizen. The architect can thus both moderate the initiative and, as a specialist, appropriately name the problem or need and find ways to realise the project. The third condition is to find non-profit funding sources that seek to promote civil society initiatives, in their structure and methods resembling the Culture Support Fund under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. I did not intend to finish the article by pointing at any union, ministry or fund. The manifestation I have described should not be based on the “top-down” approach and this is why I suggest taking the action instead of hoping for heavenly grace.
The abattoir complex, completed in 1913 is not very old. The present conversion marks the artistic contribution the architects of “A405” have made to the architecture of Klaipėda. Not only did they do a research on the old building but also they designed a new attractive and interesting object. It is worth noticing that they managed both to adapt the building’s interior to a completely different purpose and highlight the uniqueness of the old building through modern architecture.
Paliesius manor estate is listed on the Register of Cultural Property of the republic of Lithuania. The object is of great architectural, historic and landscape value and is protected by the state for public knowledge and use. Consistent and responsible cooperation of the owner, researchers, planners, builders and project and technical supervisors has helped to preserve and finely renovate yet another manor in Lithuania. In the contest for the Most outstanding restoration works of 2013/2014, the object was awarded the diploma for the implementation of the latest methodological solutions in the maintenance works and the complex and innovative restoration.
The houses were designed to be on the same lot, hence the same driveway designed on the lot border. Since both houses are located on the northern part of the lot, the southern part may be designated as the yard. Both houses are well adapted to the environment. They are in harmony with the nature and one another. The architects paid much attention to avoiding interfering with the nature and thus many trees were preserved. The houses are surrounded by pine trees, which makes them even more unique.
A complex and sustainable renovation of the sanatorium “Eglė” was a difficult task; both architectural and urban solutions required significant contribution. The architects paid constant attention to preserving the architectural elements of the original building and creating functionally convenient infrastructure. The interior harmony creates the mood of calm relaxation and adds to the value of the building itself.
The Birštonai mineral water humidifying tower stands in harmony with pine forests and is easily notable. In the evening, the tower is illuminated in different colours, yellow, blue, and green, which gives it different looks in the dark. Thanks to its unique purpose and architecture, the tower should become one of the town’s attractions and present it as a balneological resort.