During its long history as a nation-state, tiny Lithuania has been a much larger Baltic duchy, a short-lived 20th-century republic, a postwar Soviet satellite and — now independent again — a leader in the field of cybersecurity. It’s a narrative that’s reflected — cleverly and unusually — in a newly redesigned plaza in the city of Kaunas, where history and modernity come together in a space that stresses mobility.
V-Plaza, as the reimagined square is known, was realized by the German transdisciplinary design practice 3deluxe to evoke “the innovative spirit of a country considered a pioneer of digitization.” Part of a larger redevelopment that included the firm’s linkage of disparate office buildings with a variety of new builds, the plaza fronts a collection of elegantly integrated facades with an architectural fluidity of its own.
While the design, which incorporates a skatepark, an interactive fountain and a large open court for hosting events and markets, takes “existing axes of vision and movement” into account, its defining features are a sprinkling of “natural islands” offering new spots for rest and play.
Nestled into moulded concrete forms, the islands are both wood-topped and greenery-filled, boasting stands of trees, swathes of insect-friendly shrubbery and clusters of benches. In the largest agglomeration, an artificial river cascades down a discreet incline, enticing waders during the warmer months.
The result, says 3deluxe, “is an organic, landscape like arrangement” comprising staggered seating and steps, dynamic thoroughfares and gently sloping green spaces and water features that connect the square’s multiple levels.
In the 1990s, the United Kingdom successfully recast itself as Cool Britannia, a turnabout achieved in part through a robust promotion of arts and culture. The creators of V-Plaza have similar ambitions. “This hybrid of skatepark, playground and urban living room,” 3deluxe says, “is the perfect venue for a young, dynamic society.” Cool Lithuania, anyone?
A vibrant array of amenities dots V-Plaza, designed as a reflection of its modern baltic setting.