Lithuania’s second largest city, Kaunas, has launched an international contest for a major new cycle route over the River Nemunas (Deadline: 16 July)
Organised by the Kaunas Architectural and Urban Renewal Council, the competition seeks innovative proposals for a new pedestrian and cycle route connecting the city centre and Science Island with the industrial south bank of the river where a new concert hall is due to be constructed.
The project aims to create a new environmentally friendly link between two areas of the historic settlement which are currently only connected by heavily-congestion vehicle traffic routes.
The competition site in Kaunas, Lithuania
The new crossing will follow one of two proposed routes starting on the South Bank – which is known locally as Aleksotas – crossing the river to reach Science Island and then crossing the river again to reach the city centre which starts at King Mindaugas Avenue.
According to the brief: ‘The aim of the competition is to select a project proposing the most suitable pedestrian and cyclists traffic link with bridges across the Nemunas River in Kaunas along the western bank of the Nemunas River from Aleksotas to the island and from the island to King Mindaugas Avenue. The contest calls for solutions that meet the requirements of urban, landscape and functional aspects.’
Kaunas is home to many academic institutions and emerging businesses. The settlement – which will be European Capital of Culture in 2022 – was recently named a UNESCO global creative city and has hosted a flurry of international design contests.
The latest competition comes seven months after the same client launched a separate international contest for a major downtown road bridge for a prominent location west of the city’s landmark old town.
In April, Australia and Madrid-based SMAR Architecture Studio was named winner of a €23 million competition for a national science and innovation centre on nearby Nemunas Island.
Adam Khan Architects’ joint-winning proposal for the new MK Čiurlionis Concert Centre in Kaunas, Lithuania
UK outfits Adam Khan Architects and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios were meanwhile among three teams named joint-winners in an international contest to design a £26.4 million concert hall in Kaunas last September.
The MK Čiurlionis Concert Centre will occupy a landmark site overlooking the city’s historic old and new towns. A waterfront park and multifunctional spaces for public and community events will also be included alongside the 1,500-capacity concert hall.
The language for the latest competition is Lithuanian and submissions will be evaluated on their urban integrity, originality, innovation, sustainability and the proposed fee. The overall winner will receive a €8,000 prize while a second place prize of €6,000, third place prize of €4,000 and two additional prizes worth €1,000 each will also be awarded.
How to apply
The deadline for applications is 2pm local time on 16 July.
Kaunas Architecture and Urbanism Council
Vilniaus g. 22-1A
Tel: +370 37422248
View the contract notice for more information
Q&A with Jūratė Merkevičienė
The chair of the competition jury discusses her ambition for the competition
Why are your holding an international competition for a new pedestrian bridge in Kaunas?
We held three international architectural competitions in Kaunas recently: Science Island museum, MK Čiurlionis concert centre and Kėdainių bridge competitions. We were satisfied with the results – we received plenty of original ideas from all over the world. We believe that architectural competition is the only way to find the best solution for important public and private objects. A new approach can be suggested by young independent architects. Sometimes a distant view is more impartial and rational than of architects connected with the site for years.
What is your vision for how the new river crossing?
Kaunas is situated at the confluence of two rivers: Nemunas and Neris. The centre of the town is situated on the right bank of Nemunas river. A large island is located in the river opposite the centre of the city. A big universal Žalgiris arena with capacity of 15,000 visitors has been built in the island recently, a Science museum is being designed now in the island. Thus the centre of Kaunas is moving to the left bank of Nemunas. A new big M.K.Čiurlionis concert centre is being designed on the left side. The existing plants on the left bank of Nemunas are intended to be converted to cultural and residential function. It is obvious that new transport and pedestrian junctions between two banks are inevitable. Pedestrian and bicycle junction is going to be planned during this architectural competition. The junction between Kaunas centre and left bank of Nemunas was forseen in the city general plan, but only recently it became clear that the junction will consist of two pedestrian bridges.
It is very important to find the best architectural solutions because these two pedestrian bridges will influence the scenery. This junction will consist of two bridges: one - over Nemunas river from the left bank to the island and another from the island over channel to the centre of Kaunas. The integration of Nemunas island is one of the goals of the competition.
The architectural solutions of the bridge over Nemunas should pay much attention to the scenery and city view, while the bridge over channel could be designed with fewer constraints. The bridges should be designed so that shipping under them should be possible. Hoist bridges can be presented as well. One of four evaluation criterions, presented in our brief, deals with innovation and matching the principle of sustainable development. That shows how very important this item is to us.
The competition site in Kaunas, Lithuania
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
The contest is open to all architects, the only restriction for the participants is that at least one person in the group must be qualified to design special structures. We hope to see the designs of young talented architects – for them architectural competitions is the only way to show their skill and ideas. We are anticipating all kinds of participants: well-known professionals and young adventurous talents. The winner of the first place, besides the €8,000 prize, will get the opportunity to sign the contract for the technical project. All the projects will be posted up in the month-long exposition, while all the works will be publicised in the main architectural and public websites.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
Much attention is paid to the public spaces in Kaunas nowadays, the main square of the city is under reconstruction now. Two contests for the bridges – one pedestrian and one transport – both over Neris river will take place this year. The bridges are necessary because the junctions with the left bank of Neris river are weak and overcrowded.
Are there any other pedestrian bridge projects you have been impressed by?
I was impressed by green pedestrian bridge near Seoul in Korea designed by international group KILD. The architects are: Ivane Ksnelashvili, Petras Išora, Ona Lozuraitytė, Dominykas Daunys. They received first prize at the Yang Jagogae Eco-Bridge Design Competition.