Evelina Karalevičienė
www.kamane.lt , 2007 09 23

One of the visions of high-rise buildings in Kaunas

Concept of locating high-rise buildings

Main scheme of the plan of high-rise buildings location

Visualisation of the future “twins” of the architects’ group G.Natkevičius ir Partneriai

Vision of Aleksotas suburb offered by A. Kančas Studio

Vilnius has changed markedly due to the rising high verticals

Chicago, like other biggest cities of the USA, may not be pictured without skyscrapers

In brief: We have one bright dominant in Kaunas in regard to the height at the moment – the monumental Christ Resurrection Church (the height of the main tower reaches ~ 63 m). However, there are several signs that the situation may change in a short while. The special plan of locating high-rise buildings in Kaunas was approved of in spring of 2007 after long considerations which lasted almost a dozen of years. The plan grants the possibility to Kaunas to carry out the construction of untypical high-rise buildings in various places of the city.


It may be seen in the scheme that the permit is granted to build high-rise buildings in new dwelling areas formed in the Soviet years and in upper terraces of the city. It is offered in the special plan to design high buildings in the part of Savanorių Avenue which is more remote from the centre, in Aleksotas at the crossing of Veiverių and Bakanausko Streets, in Šilainiai at Žemaičių Road and Baltų Avenue as well as in other territories which do not influence the composition of the historical part of the city and the Nemunas valley.


It is indicated in the explicatory letter of the plan that a high-rise building is a building which is equal or higher than 30 m. It is stated in the confirmed plan that such buildings may not be constructed in the Old Town, New Town and their protective zones. It is prohibited to construct them in territories where there are heritage objects that are protected or should be protected.


However, does Kaunas really need to climb up the sky? On the one hand, skyscrapers may serve as a symbol of power, modernity. Such buildings may liven up the city. On the other hand, does a human being really need such constructions, does he/she feel cosy among them? Kaunas does not lack huge buildings that have turned into ghosts already now.


The Professor, architecture researcher Nijolė Lukšionytė-Tolvaišienė believes that Kaunas has to grow naturally to the level of high-rise buildings rather than chase fashion. The Professor regrets that the city does not have its urbane concept at all: “movement takes place in separate spots while the general view does not improve”. The expert regrets that priority is granted to new constructions rather than valuable buildings of the Old Town and the New town, which are falling apart in our eyes.


Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Lithuanian Architects’ Union, Kaunas Branch, Gintautas Balčytis states that the lack of self-trust determines the need for high-rise buildings first of all. “It is a good method of self-expression and self-advertisement for architects and businessmen,” notes the chairman. However, not so many particular project offers have been receive yet - the most real one at the moment is the two skyscrapers designed by the architect Gintautas Natkevičius’ team near the city centre, at M.K.Čiurlionis and railway bridges, called “twins”.


One more project of high-rise buildings quarter is prepared by the grand of architecture Algimantas Kančas Studio in Aleksotas suburb. The planned height of buildings is from 30 to 75 metres. A. Kančas informed that the architectural decision has been approved already. Still, A. Kančas stated about the scheme of high-rise buildings in Kaunas that it had the character of an insured person – permits were granted for constructions in places which could not be seen by anyone.”


Another well-known architect Darius Čiuta is sure that high buildings may be constructed anywhere in Kaunas. “Every project should be regarded as an individual case,” he stated. D.Čiuta also criticised the approved scheme asserting that everyone was afraid of responsibility. D.Čiuta has submitted a project of three high-rise buildings of different architectural form for the territory in Juozapavičiaus Avenue behind the railway bridge, which is still being considered and improved.


Nonetheless, the opinion of the famous Norwegian architect Niels Torp expressed last year should not be forgotten: high buildings would look like aliens in the temporary capital, they would not suit the general context of the city. In his opinion, Kaunas is a low city by its nature. Perhaps, the architect represents the environmentally-friendly development direction chosen by Scandinavian countries.


Listening to different arguments, it is evident that no unanimous opinion regarding the issue of high-rise buildings may be reached in Kaunas yet. Still, experts should not forget architectural quality of skyscrapers when accepting decisions; location and context should be taken into regard. The most ideal situation would be if skyscrapers would be located as much further from the Old Town as possible from the architectural heritage point of view. Also, it is significant that Kaunas should not catch the virus of gigantism-mania. Let us hope that Kaunas skyscrapers will not start shooting up spontaneously as mushrooms after rain and that the new objects will be created in the city panorama preserving the harmonious dialogue of historical and modern Kaunas. Painful mistakes of Vilnius should not be repeated.

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