In the midst of a newly designed building ensemble boasting bright facades and ultramodern workspaces, a visionary plaza aka V-Plaza is created that is a celebration of contemporary mobility. Cyclists and scooters cruise along organically curved levels, between them oases of tranquility, water features, cafes, and restaurants. This hybrid skatepark, playground, and the urbane living room have now opened as the perfect venue for a young, dynamic society in Kaunas, Lithuania. The earthworks began in 2017 and the project was completed in 2020.
The complete transformation of the central square, together with the buildings that adjoin it on its eastern side started in 2016. This includes the three new builds and two renovations, along with an underground parking garage that extends beneath the entire square.
Urban Development Process
What was previously a largely unused space adjoined by historical buildings is now becoming a new, inviting public amenity. Now one can casually enjoy a coffee in a lunch break or get some work done outdoors. While children play in the water, young people skate and students relax in the sun. This is certainly the new now in Kaunas and has brought to life a future-oriented architectural concept. It sets new impulses and is geared towards the communicative needs of a young and dynamic generation.
The history-steeped “Unity Square” with its impressive buildings from different eras has been redesigned to reflect the innovative spirit of a country considered to be a pioneer of digitization. The extraordinary design sets off the extensive façades to bright and cheerful effect, creates modern workspaces, and uses organically shaped green spaces, curved pathways, seating levels, and the latest technology to transform the space into inspiring terrain with an urban ambiance.
The real challenge was to preserve cultural heritage while creating space for social transformation. And the solution was innovative architecture that caters to the needs of today’s society: bright, friendly, open, and connecting.
The buildings and façades: International Style of the early 1960s
V-Plaza is an exciting ensemble featuring various architectural interpretations of the different eras that define the city. Hence, for instance, the new corner building is an homage to Lithuania’s Art Deco heritage. With its rounded and organically shaped glass fronts and the elongated façade, the corner building is quite captivating. Here, the coming together of old and new building cultures is celebrated rather than concealed. Extensive glazing and unfussy design meet detailed window frontage featuring applied decoration inspired by the façades of the neighboring historical buildings.
The central new-build block reflects the city’s Bauhaus tradition and forges a clear link to the now modernized dual ensemble that so epitomizes the International Style of the early 1960s. The redesign of the façade picks up on the aesthetic simplicity of Cubist design and clear lines.
An elongated roof pavilion covers both the newly built and the renovated structures and thus melds different styles to create a new whole. The roof pavilion incorporates a roof terrace that stretches the entire length of the complex – a green oasis offering a magnificent view of the whole city.
The stylistic connection between all five buildings is their uniform, white-rendered façade, which enables all the buildings to merge into one radiant unit. The redesign of the interiors likewise emphasizes the idea of connection, since all the buildings are linked internally. Extensive lobbies, atriums, and open workspaces permit straightforward communication as well as concentrated and creative work. Meanwhile, shops, cafés, and restaurants inject further life into this modern, agile world of work and the lively, urban leisure society.
The square: new quality of life in Kaunas
A historical square of the V-Plaza is transformed and developed in two design levels. This square structure the entire surface as a grid made up of visible lines on the ground. One is linear and forms the historical context, in which the existing need for vision and movement are taken into account. The other level is designed to be organic and fluid, reflecting the natural flows of movement of passers-by.
This structuring gives rise not only to pathways but also to natural islands, which are enlivened in different ways: a green lawn for sunbathing, a skate park, a programmed fountain complex, or a modern event venue.
The natural result is an organic, landscape-like arrangement comprising dynamic thoroughfares, staggered seating and steps, and gently sloping green spaces and water features that connect the different height levels of the square in a seemingly obvious way. The materials used form a welcoming interplay of light granite, wood, and elaborately modeled elements made of white molded concrete. The choice of plants for the green spaces is based on the local flora. Native pine and birch along with insect-friendly grasses and shrubs form the basis of the greening concept.
An artificial stream meanders through the organic concrete landscape of V-Plaza with wooden islands, inviting visitors to linger and play, while an interactive fountain installation enlivens the large, flat open space in the square, which can also be used for events, festivals and markets.
The man funding the transformation of the square is a passionate skateboarder. He wanted to offer skate enthusiasts a new home in the city, hence large parts of the square are laid out to be skater-friendly too. Specialists in skate park construction were therefore brought on board to help realize the challenging free forms.
Another addition, lying opposite the new corner building, is a modern amphitheater. The frontage facing it can be outfitted with a giant LED screen for public viewings when required.
On this basis, additional mobile elements will be used in the future to bring further life to the V-Plaza square. For instance, a pavilion that can be planted in various ways as an urban gardening project, changing installations such as kiosks, food trucks, mobile seating and a temporary event stage.
All in all, it’s a square to bring people together, to create new opportunities, and to improve the quality of life for people in Kaunas.
About the Architecture firm – 3deluxe architecture
The 3deluxe architecture department specializes in iconographic architecture and is run by Dieter Brell. As per 3deluxe architecture creates sustainable architecture that communicates, that expresses themes and aesthetic visions, that convey brand messages and that produces intense inspiring experiences. Or, simply put, architecture this world more interesting and beautiful.
For more than 20 years, 3deluxe sets groundbreaking impulses when it comes to design, and more recently their position in the architecture world. In an international context, 3deluxe’ organic shapes and complex multimedia productions have proven considerate to numerous architectural projects.
Project Name: V-Plaza – Urban Development
Developer: SBA Group
Location: Kaunas, Lithuania
Completion Date: May 2020
Dimension: 15400 sq.m. (Plaza); 15826 sq.m. (Parking); 16862 sq.m. (Buildings)
Photo credit: Norbert Tukaj, Sascha Jahnke