N G I S E D F O Y T I C O C S E N U – S A N A U K 3 6
How does one begin working with historic buildings? Historical buildings touched by today’s architects had undergone a number of changes before, so the first step is always to get to know and understand those layers: what is hidden, what was affixed later and why? Equally important is the cultural-historical context that helps to read buildings from the details. However, this does not in any way mean that the goal is to eliminate all the changes and restore the oldest state of the building. We cannot merely scrape history and after reaching foundations declare that it is better than the roof. Both of them are true to the culture and economy of their time, and what is more valuable to us is again a cultural issue. Of course, I am talking about imitations – they are a big separate topic. From all the objects that you worked on, which ones would you single out? How did the process of adapting them to current needs go? The architectural study of Raguvėlė Manor allowed me to experience an entirely new kind of joy for the first time. For around five days we lived in a manor with the team slowly scraping the paint and plaster layers of the walls, gradually realising the hidden anatomy of the building and its development. For example, one day with A. Prikonckienė we were checking the inner wall of the manor and discovered ancient stonework and even a tiny cellar opening. We were able to conclude that at a particular time it had been an external wall. And the next night, full of excitement, together with G. Prikockis we started collecting the broken crown parts of the masonry stove scattered all around until we finally put the 'jigsaw puzzle' into one. It is an excellent feeling, an artistic mystery to solve.
K AU N A S F U L L O F CU LT U R E
It was similar when we worked with the Romuva film theatre. When it was opened in 1940, the technology, people’s habits, and needs were different. For example, today, the exit from the film hall that leads straight outside is no longer considered a rational decision. The main film hall originally had high windows which were later mured up, so we chose to mark the windows in the exterior by recreating niches and thus bringing back more expressivity to the vast bulk, however, windows will never appear inside again for various technical and practical reasons. The client's demand to adapt the building to multifunctional use also poses new challenges: how can we accommodate and create a quality environment for new functions that require ever–different technical and spatial solutions in the building that was built for the film culture of another time? Compromises need to be made. The hall will be shared by film, theatre and modern dance – we even found space for educational activities and administration. By the way, sometimes when reconstructing the interwar period buildings, one can gain more space. Many of them were serving as boiler– rooms, stoker, custodian or superintendent’s flats. These rooms can now be adapted to new functions, but it is always fun to leave a hint that would help decode the previous story. What are the current trends for adapting objects to people with special needs? Access to buildings is often a challenge in reconstructing old structures – especially valuable heritage objects. Often such structures have many steep stairs, narrow, intricate corridors, thresholds. The installation of any type of lift inside a building is often impossible because there is just no space for it, or it could also destroy the entire structure of the