(Calm review) Aušra Blinstrubaitė
www.kamane.lt 2008 06 24

In brief: Even though it is stated in the press that the lack for administrative buildings is still felt in Lithuania and specifically in Kaunas, some of them arise every year in the city. New office buildings are constructed or former industrial or administrative buildings are reconstructed.

How do the new buildings, which receive huge investments, change the face of the city? By what principles their architecture and finishing is created, what tendencies may be observed as compared to the ones noticed in Europe and the world?

During the recent years several office buildings were constructed or renovated in Kaunas which attract the eye of a passer-by. The Business Leaders’ Centre opened the door in the Independence Square of Kaunas, Tower office centre and adjacent buildings were reconstructed into office buildings in Savanorių Avenue in 2004. In 2005 the printing house Aurika with administrative and warehousing premises celebrated the house warming party in Taikos Avenue, Pentacom UAB office building was reconstructed in Jonavos Street in the same year.

In 2006 the Business Centre 32 was reconstructed in Vytauto Avenue in Kaunas, meanwhile, the newly built Business Centre 1000, otherwise called an Office of One Thousand Litas, is being furnished at the crossing of Taikos and Pramonės Streets – it should be opened in the near future.

These are only some of the major office buildings (or buildings with several functions). All of them may be characterised by functionality first of all, minimalist forms, transparent and light construction and decoration materials. Steel and glass constructions, which became popular in the world architecture of administrative and commercial buildings in the 20th century, are used the most frequently.

Reconstructed Business Leaders' Centre BLC in Donelaičio Street, Kaunas

Reconstructre Business Centre 32 in Vytauto Ave., Kaunas

No big novelties will be noticed in the reconstructed office buildings, e. g. BLC in Donelaičio Street (Old Town Architects and Designers' Workshop) or Business Centre 32 in Vytauto Ave. (arch. Gintaras Kazakauskas). More or less modern decoration by toned glass and convenient interior planning prevails. True, the clean rectangular form of the BLC building is messed up by the automobile parking lot constructed in the Independence Square. Meanwhile, the solution of the Business Centre 32 is much better even though the building is located at the crossing of two streets.

Tower business centre and adjacent reconstructed office buildings in Savanorių Ave, Kaunas

Glass finishing prevails in the Tower business centre and nearby buildings as well (arch. V.Juozaitis). Still, the ensemble of these buildings is rather expressive and outstanding. The scale of Savanorių Ave. provided the architect with the chance to design higher buildings, more freedom was granted as no big compromises with the environment were needed. Therefore, the result is convenient, solid and memorable. The buildings combine luxury and modesty, temperance and precipitation.

Printing house Aurika with administrative and warehousing premises in Taikos Ave., Kaunas

Office building of Pentacom UAB reconstructed in 2005 in Jonavos Str., Kaunas

Meanwhile, the building of the printing house Aurika with administrative premises (arch. Gintautas Natkevičius, Mantas Mickevičius, Rimantas Adomaitis) surprises by combination of mirror faces and the form of an upturned trapeze. The building of exceptional architecture livens up the entire zone of Taikos Ave., where industrial buildings of the Soviet times prevail. The architects of the building have thought about its day and night robe, therefore, the object looks interesting and is constantly changing during 24 hours per day.

Another office building designed by the same architects as Aurika building, the office centre of Pentacom UAB in Jonavos Str. reconstructed in 2005, is also outstanding by dynamics and original solutions. Its architecture is strictly industrial with elements of metal, glass and concrete combined. As the office is situated in the area of industrial, trade and administrative buildings, its cold industrial façade style matches the context of the entire street well.

Business Centre 1000 in the crossing of Pramonės and Taikos Ave., Kaunas

Finally, the recently emerged Business Centre 1000 at the crossing of Taikos and Pramonės Avenues stands out not only by its streamlined organic form but also by the unusual decoration solution – the building is covered in colour glass plates in which the Lithuanian banknotes of one thousand Litas created by A. Galdikas in the interwar period are pictured. The architecture of this office building represents two tendencies – the search for novelties in the field of decoration and the aim for more organic construction.

Thus, the review of major office buildings in Kaunas shows that luxurious minimalism, lightness, transparency, functionality, certain coldness and sterility prevails in recently constructed (or reconstructed) administrative buildings of the city. The majority of them combine two functions - offices and catering institutions, office and production premises. Meanwhile, presently designed administrative and residential buildings include more functions – offices, apartments, hotels, cafes are planned in them. Such tendency spreads in the USA and Europe more and more. This shows the attention of Lithuanian architects to world tendencies.

It is probable that more new office buildings of original architecture will arise in Kaunas in future. Therefore, it is important that architects and customers would avoid fast solutions and cheap materials, that they would strive for high-quality and original ideas, which would match the surroundings and comply to the needs of a human being. As a Swedish-British architect Ralph Erskine has put it, “The job of buildings is to improve human relations, and architecture must ease them, not make them worse.”  

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