2018 has been the year of Centenaries of Independence for Lithuania and its neighbours. But did you know that 2019 is going to be the Year of Kaunas, the Temporary Capital? That’s true - in January 1919, the temporary government of Lithuania boarded the train to Kaunas, as Vilnius fell to the hands of Poland.
So, after Kaunas suddenly became Lithuania’s provisional capital in 1919, the city’s subsequent transformation was nothing short of miraculous. Kaunas’ identity changed radically: in less than twenty years, its residents transformed the city into a modern, elegant and European capital. Architecture played a particularly important role in that transformation.
The architecture of the interwar era is currently a growing source of inspiration as well as one of the most recognised faces of our city. It’s included in UNESCO's World Heritage Tentative List and was awarded the European Heritage Sign. There are many resources for deeper digging, and one of them is bright yellow. It’s called “Architecture of Optimism”. The logo of the project was inspired by an actual residential house on K. Donelaičio street.
The book that’s actually a catalogue of an exhibition that has been travelling around Europe (we’ve blogged about it before - it’s currently at BOZAR in Brussels!) is more than just the story of one city and its architecture. It is about the perpetual birth and death of hope, about the creative endeavour and inspiring, productive optimism, about the migration of ideas and forms, about the local and the global, about art and freedom, war and oppression. It is about changing forms and beliefs and their relationship with the present day.
The articles in the book were written by Vilma Akmenytė-Ruzgienė, Norbertas Černiauskas, Marija Drėmaitė, Giedrė Jankevičiūtė, Paulius Tautvydas Laurinaitis, Viltė Migonytė-Petrulienė and Vaidas Petrulis. Contemporary pictures by Gintaras Česonis and Norbert Tukaj. Designed by Jurga Dovydėnaitė, Linas Gliaudelis. Published by LAPAS publishing house in collaboration with UNESCO.
The Lithuanian edition of the publication that’s way more comprehensive than your regular exhibition catalogue is out of print. This is just one of the reasons to secure your own English-language copy of the yellow concentrate of optimism. It’s as intriguing and captivating for architecture lovers as it is for world travellers. In fact, if you haven’t yet visited Kaunas, we’re confident it’ll move at least one position up in your wishlist.
You can buy one of the last copies available at the LAPAS online store. If you’re in Kaunas, we suggest you grab “Architecture of Optimism” at the M. K. Čiurlionis Museum of Art. This is where the project presentation is scheduled for December 13th.