Work is now under way to build Lithuania’s first National Science & Innovation Centre. The centre – also known as Science Island – will be located in Nemunas island in Kaunas, the forthcoming European Capital of Culture.
The centre is being built to a design chosen following an international competition organised by UK firm Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC). The process attracted 144 entries from 44 countries – the most popular design contest ever held in Lithuania. The top three studios were asked to tender, before Spanish/Australian firm SMAR Architecture Studio was appointed to develop their concept through to completion on site.
Lithuania’s second largest city, Kaunas, is a former industrial centre that has since reinvented itself as a hub of creativity, culture and academia. Kaunas, which has an abundance of museums, galleries, theatres and eight universities, will be a European Capital of Culture in 2022. The city’s blend of pre-war and modernist architecture has also led it to be the first city in central and eastern Europe to be a designated UNESCO City of Design.
The €25m Science Island will sit on a 13,000m2 site on a river island, a 33-hectare recreational and leisure space with views over Kaunas’s medieval Old Town. Science Island will focus on environmental themes and ecosystems, demonstrating sustainability and future energy technologies in the design of its own building.
Aistė Lukaševičiūtė, the head of the investment and project division at Kaunas City Municipal Administration, said: “Science Island was a great competition process that generated incredible results. The contest prompted global interest in Kaunas, as well as providing best practice for future Lithuanian design competitions.”