|In July/August 2002, the joint event of the Japanese and the Lithuanian
architects took place in Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania.
For the first time, a group of most celebrated Japanese architects,
lead by Mr. Fumihiko Maki, visited the Baltic States.
The idea to bring Japan (in the East of Asia) and Lithuania (in the
East of Europe) closer and to initiate direct dialog among architects
was initiated two years ago and coordinated by the Ambassador Extraordinary
and Plenipotentiary, Mr. Dainius Kamaitis (Embassy of the Republic
of Lithuania to Japan in Tokyo). The "idea" became "reality"
with fruitful cooperation with the Japan Institute of Architects (JIA)
and special efforts of Mr. Taro Ashihara, its Vice President. The
UIA Congress 2002, which took place in Berlin from July 22 to 26,
became an added motive for the Japanese to take visit Lithuania. In
its turn Architects Association of Lithuania Kaunas Branch and Kaunas
City Municipality helped the organization of the event.
The were three parts to the event of the "East-East":
a joint exhibition of Lithuanian and Japanese architects (07.30
- 08.13.2002), the public seminar (07.30 - 07.31.2002) and the student
July 30 was the opening day of all the main public events. The
day began with seminar sessions in the morning, followed by the
announcement of students' workshop task and formation of groups
in the afternoon, and climaxed with the opening of exhibition inaugurated
by Mr. Fumihiko Maki in the M. Zilinskas Art Gallery. The day's
events were completed with a special dinner reception, hosted by
the Mayor of Kaunas in the Town Hall with formal greetings and informal
discussions provoked mainly by reflections of the open seminar.
The second day was featured by Mr. Valdas Adamkus, the President
of Lithuania, welcoming all the members of the Japanese delegation
at the exhibition, accompanied by the Charge d'affaires of Japanese
Embassy to Lithuania, Mr. Eizo Kaneyasu, expressing his rejoices
over the newly established relationship among the Japanese and Lithuanian
The two-day seminar was dedicated to the key subjects aimed at
the present day transformations in the architectural culture. The
seven "samurais", as they so wittingly called themselves,
consisting of Chiaki Arai, George Kunihiro Kengo Kuma, Taro Ashihara,
Tetsuo Furuichi, Koh Kitayama, Hidetoshi Ohno, and the group of
Lithuanian architects and theorists, consisting of Tomas Grunskis,
Vytautas Petrusonis, Jonas Audejaitis and Jurate Tutlyte discussed
about "new program", "building types", "order"
and "material". The Japanese architects mainly presented
their creative works featuring the origins of ideas. Lithuanians,
on the other hand, focused more on theoretical reflections and generalizations.
The Keynote speech, delivered by Mr. Fumihiko Maki, attracted the
greatest interest of the audience. Mr. Maki introduced the trends
of contemporary architectural trends of Japan, along with the presentation
of particularity of his projects. Mr. Linas Tuleikis, the president
of Architects Association of Lithuania Kaunas branch, then took
the podium in a responding talk. Mr. Tuleikis discussed the regional
and national aspects in contemporary architectural practice in Lithuania,
raising a question, whether or not, globalization influence Lithuanian
Globalization and national identity became the leading subject
of the subsequent seminar discussions growing out of the initial
search of differences and similarities between two cultures of the
"East". The discussions crystallized main ideas about
globalization as the inevitable reality and the necessity of preservation
of the national character. It also revealed delicate differences
in cultural perception. Japanese tradition and national identity
become clear to lie somewhere within, at the very heart of a man
and his emotional-aesthetical charges. Thus, the architectural culture,
initially, seems to follow the truth of environmental, social existence
and not a visual flight. Lithuania appears to be on its way to discover
and identify, that, its architecture is more expressed by highly
budgeted aesthetic-formalistic solutions and overwhelms the socio-cultural
based projects. The content of the joint exhibition clearly disclosed
The differences, in a way, are rooted in Japanese and Lithuanian
architectural educational systems. The evidence of this argument
could be seen in the students' workshop "Intervention in a
City". All in all, 36 students (18 Japanese, 18 Lithuanian)
worked together in 6 groups from July 27 through August 1, 2002.
The students modeled their ideas about how to turn the City to the
rivers. Situated on the confluence of two rivers, Kaunas has no
contact with the water. Students' task was to choose a site and
propose an archi-furniture - a functional public space object -
on the chosen location. Final results should be considered as very
successful, despite difficulties in integrating different ideas
as well as generating motivation among some of the participants.
Within a very short period of time (only 3 days), students managed
to prepare brilliant presentations and create original ideas in
hopes of arousing the interest of the city officials to look seriously
into turning Kaunas to the rivers in near future. Behind the scene,
it was evident that, the Japanese students were more oriented towards
conceptual thinking and Lithuanians towards strong technical skills.
The official part of the "East-East" was, simultaneously,
accompanied by the informal events which brought both sides together
ever closer. The striking similarities between Japanese and Lithuanian
traditional buildings were discovered during the trip to Lithuanian
open-air folk museum in Rumsiskes. There were genuine interests
of visitors towards Trakai National Park, the castle and the traditional
architecture of Vilnius city, the capital of Lithuania. Thoughts
of the visitors were focused in the neutrality of contemporary Lithuanian
architecture and the criticism towards possible image of the future
skyscrapers of Vilnius induced by the architects' search of national
The visit to the Chiune Sugihara Memorial Museum in Kaunas and
the ideas about its renovation seems to be the most realistic bridge
connecting the two cultures in the nearest future.
Along with all other wordless experiences - the rhythm of dancing
felt in some evening party, identifiable emotional charges, level
of inner openness- the two cultures became one in the "Eastern"
love for architecture.
Japan - Taro Ashihara, Chiaki Arai, Tetsuo Furuichi, Nobuaki Furuya,
Kazuo Iwamura, Atsushi Kitagawara, Koh Kitayama, Kengo Kuma, George
Kunihiro, Hiroshi Naito, Tadasu Ohe, Hidetoshi Ohno, Ken Yokogawa.
Lithuania - Vilius Adomavieius, Audrius Ambrasas, Art?ras Asauskas,
Gintaras Caikauskas, Darius Ciuta, Gediminas Jurevicius, Algimantas
Kancas, Audrys Karalius, Sarunas Kiaune, Kestutis Kisielius, Sigitas
Kuncevicius, Saulius Mikstas, Gintautas Natkevicius, Rolandas Palekas,
Saulius Pamerneckas, Kestutis Pempe, Ramunas Raslavicius and others.
Jury: Chiaki Arai, Taro Ashihara, Tetsuo Furuichi, Koh Kitayama,
Hidetoshi Ohno, Jonas Audejaitis, Loreta Janusaitiene, Rimantas
Giedraitis, Alvydas Seibokas, Linas Tuleikis
First Prize Winner - Project "Tunnel": Io Kato, Shunsuke
Tomida, Hiroaki Kishimoto, Tomas Kucinskas, Aureja Leskauskaite,
Second Prize Winner - "Parazit"; authors Naoyoshi Hasegawa,
Atsushi Kawasaki, Kotaro Tonouchi, Daiva Sereikaite, Ausura Siaurusaityte,
Third Prize Winner - "Magic boxes"; authors Yusuke Kaneko,
Koichi Sugaya, Vilda Masonaite, Martynas Nagele, Andrius Aluzas,
Edgaras Lepeska, Gediminas Kezys.