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26 June 2017
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Architecture carries the identity of

Lithuania on its shoulders

Description: C:\Users\Aage\Desktop\Christmas Greeting for VilNews 2011\028.JPG
ABOVE: My first project in Vilnius Old Town, Dominikonų g. 5, 1993-1995. See also http://vilnews.com/?p=1549.
I had seen a lot of great architecture around the world before I came to Lithuania more than 20 years ago. Yet I had never seen a country whose identity was carried by architecture. Most countries have their unique architecture and national monuments, but here I was suddenly faced with a nation where many centuries of history and life were clearly recorded in the buildings and
the surrounding, unique urban environment called the Vilnius Old Town. Walking through this exciting history book is what
increasingly makes Lithuania's traditional architecture a magnet for visitors from around the world. For it is precisely
here that they find the essence of architecture; experiencing that buildings, styles, streets, squares, ornaments
play in perfect harmony with human life and activities, in a symbiosis found nowhere else in the world.

 

 

Text: Aage Myhre, VilNews Editor-in-Chief/architect
aage.myhre@VilNews.com 

Vilnius is called the "world's most Italian city outside Italy," and also "Europe's most baroque city north of the Alps". Before the Baroque made ​​its appearance, Vilnius was considered one of the world's three leading Renaissance cities (!), in competition with Milan and Florence. However, although the Lithuanian architecture has its roots in Italy, it also developed its own distinctive character, which now once again delights and surprises visitors from near and far.

Unfortunately, this wonderful national heritage was not preserved and continued too well during the years when Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. Also today, there is devoted minimal attention to this heritage, the very identity of Lithuania. Buildings and environments that have been completed over the past 20 years have too much become pale, indifferent copies of Western countries 'modernist architecture' instead of development projects based on Lithuania's phenomenal genuine, beautiful traditions in architecture and living environments.

Fortunately, there are still ancient urban districts and buildings throughout the country that remind us about what a proud and powerful identity Lithuania had in the past. And thankfully, authorities and many others understand that these fine monuments must be preserved as the proud bearers of identity they still are. Bravo!

But it surprises me greatly that today's architects and planners are not willing to listen to Lithuania's own
‘identity-music’ instead of following in the footsteps of the West’s often banalising, so-called modern architecture.

A Lithuanian architecture that honour and take into account the nation's identity would not cost more, it would make the new building environments more attractive and warm, and it would show the world that Lithuania is a proud nation with deep roots in culture and history, virtually unparalleled. So why wait?

Let me exemplify what I have in mind...

BMW and Jaguar

BMW 2002

Description: http://images.thecarconnection.com/sml/2002-bmw-5-series-m5_100029229_s.jpg

Jaguar 2002

Description: http://images.autobytel.com/web/carpics/420pixelswide/2001JaguarXJ8.jpg

BMW 2012

Description: http://techmediacars.com/wp-content/uploads/bmw-2012-5-series-picture-623-4f39d2d3d889a.jpg

Jaguar 2012

Description: http://www.sensethecar.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Jaguar-XF-2012-Wallpapers-1.jpg

BMW cars have for many years developed in accordance with a significant identity line. A fast, sporty car that appeals to young, dynamic business people, albeit often with a faint 'mafia-touch'. BMW has remained true to this line and one can well see the relationship between current and earlier models.

Jaguar was long regarded as a ‘work of art’, designed to satisfy drivers with high demands for classic design combined with top performance. BMW was seen as a vehicle of raw power, while the Jaguar simply was aristocratic and beautiful. But then, for the latest models, Jaguar started making BMW-copies instead of
sticking to their own identity as a car for connoisseurs. A little sad to see that lovely Jaguar fell for such a temptation, and thus made ​​the car market a little less inspiring and versatile...

Lithuanian ‘identity architecture’ Anno 2012?

NEW BUILDINGS AT EXISTING STREETS IN OLDER URBAN AREAS:

As for renovation and new construction in older urban areas, I am convinced that one should stick very strictly

to the originals. If we are talking about a new building to fill in a gap in a row of houses, I believe one should strive to create identical copies of what once existed on the site. The building below, in Didzioji g here in Vilnius, in my opinion is a good example of exactly that. The building is less than 10 years old, but is built as a true copy of the building that once stood right here.

Some would say we in our time must be allowed to build, fill in, in styles that belong to our day, even in an older urban environment. I strongly disagree. For me, this sounds as an argument to introduce new items, colours, etc., in a genuine Rembrandt painting when it is being restored...

Description: Old Town, Vilnius, Vilnius County, 1 bedroom, Apartment for rent Sublet.com
Copying the original building.

NEW BUILDINGS ON NEW SITES IN OLDER URBAN AREAS:

It is not often constructed new buildings here in Vilnius Old Town. There are simply very few vacant spaces.

But now is finally something happening. A brand new apartment complex is under construction in the heart of the Old Town, on a site that until recently was reserved for old garages from the Soviet era. Kotrynos Vartai is the name, a complex of apartments and two commercial premises being built at Klaipedos street next to St. Catherine’s Church and the Teachers’ House. The new complex takes carefully into account the Vilnius old town architecture. Bravo!

Description: http://vilnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/kvartai.jpg
Keeping the original style.

NEW ARCHITECTURE ON SITES NEAR OLDER URBAN CENTRES:

I think a combination of genuine, original building materials, such as yellow-brown-red bricks will be a good

item to include in today's buildings outside the centre of Vilnius. In such a way we can pass on the legacy of centuries of good architectural traditions as we find them represented in the Vilnius Old Town. The more modern times may be well represented by a far more modern material, namely glass. Below I show three different ways to combine these two building materials. Distinct, modern, traditional and with dignity...

New building styles for districts near the old city centres of Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda. Genuine building materials combined with glass, demonstrating respect and affiliation to the ancient ‘identity/architecture’ of Lithuania and at the same time looking to the future, demonstrating openness, light and distinctiveness.

LITUANIA’S ANCIENT IDENTITY ARCHITECTURE IS AS MUCH ABOUT OUTDOOR ROOMS AS ABOUT THE BUILDINGS THEMSELVES:

What is happening between the buildings is as important as the buildings themselves, and is another utterly defining aspect of Lithuania’s identity architecture.

Holistic thinking is a hall mark of this architecture. Just look at how perfectly well Vilnius Old Town functions as a symbiosis of buildings, streets, squares, ornaments, colours and more – in perfect harmony with people and the very life of the city!

It is often so that the way the surroundings are planned determine whether a new project is successful or not, and Vilnius Old Town has a lot to teach us in this respect.

The shapes of the outdoor rooms, and how they connect the buildings around, is extremely important for good urban planning. Streets, squares, lawns, parks, fountains, benches, lamp posts, parking are all elements that are supposed to play together and serve the people of any urban area.

There are so many items to play with, even outdoors. Think water, fountains, bridges, decorations, ornaments;

items that tell something about what happens inside the buildings around and the people using the buildings and the services offered, being it in an office building, a restaurant, a hotel or a service provider...

And most important of all, all elements must have human dimensions. So that people who come to the building will be feeling well, feeling joy. All new buildings should radiate kindness and dignified service attitudes towards customers and the general public...

Description: C:\Users\Aage\Pictures\001 Adobe\Digital Camera Photos\2008-04-15-1410-13\IMG_2033.JPG
VOKIECIU G. IN VILNIUS OLD TOWN.

What is happening between the buildings is as important as the buildings themselves, and is another utterly defining aspect of Lithuania’s identity architecture. Holistic thinking is a hall mark of this architecture. Just look at how perfectly well Vilnius Old Town functions as a symbiosis of buildings, streets, squares, ornaments, colours and more – in perfect harmony with people and the very life of the city!

 

Description: http://img.expo2010china.com/expocn/pics/13/13479.jpg

Description: http://img.expo2010china.com/expocn/pics/13/13480.jpg

Description: PENTAX K-5  Photo

There are so many items to play with, even outdoors. Think water, fountains, bridges, decorations, ornaments;
items that tell something about what happens inside the buildings around, and the people using the buildings
and the services offered, being it in an office building, a restaurant, a hotel or a service provider...

Category : Featured black / Real estate, building, design, architecture

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    February 21 2015
    CommentsLike

    • interesting read. Isn't it so awfully expensive to build style rather than structure. Nowadays, seems to put up buildings as fast as you can because of the cost of labor.

      May 26 2013
      CommentsLike

      • […] Read more… Category : Featured black / Front page […]

        February 26 2012
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