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Giant Stones in Forest

Date:2014-05-30 0comments Clicks :4665

Situated amid the hills and forests at the convergence of the Vilnia and Neris Rivers, the capital of Lithuania marks the geographical center point of Europe. With a population of almost 600,000, it is the biggest and most densely populated city in the country. Ever since it was first founded, the multi-ethnicity and multiculturalism of this bustling metropolis have helped it to become one of the continent’s most liberal cities – broad-mined, tolerant and open to new and different experiences. With a rich tradition influenced by different cultures, religions and styles, the cityscape is shaped by unique buildings from the Gothic and Renaissance eras, but is defined in particular also by its Neoclassical and Baroque architecture, which is why the historic center of Vilnius was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. On the other hand, it also offers the forward-looking architecture associated with the business centers and residential buildings which presents the modern face of an ambitious and up-to-coming capital.


The University of Vilnius is the oldest university in the Baltic States and – alongside Prague – one of the oldest in the whole of central Europe. It dates back to the Jesuit College founded in 1569. The venerable university buildings are right in the middle of the historic city center, opposite the Presidential Palace. However, the needs of modern university facilities have outgrown the original buildings that would be needed was found in the so-called “Sunrise Valley” on a piece of land, near woods at the edge of the city where a remarkable new campus designed according to state-of-the-art standards is being built in quiet surroundings that are close to nature. It will provide the perfect environment for scientific endeavor and exchanges of ideas, for encounters, meetings, communication and academic life in general. The first construction project that was completed was the new university library, an expressive design that is set to become a real landmark.


The area is not urbanized, and the boundaries of land plots are not formed: a large forest surrounds the plot. The constructions site emerges in the natural surroundings of which the environment has inspired architectural conception of the Library building: cubature of expressive silhouette, cozy inside spaces and their linkage with nature. When moving around the building, scenery changes unpredictably: silhouettes cover one another in different shapes. A plaza of the Library in front of main entrance is an important place. Entrance hall is something as prolonged the plaza’s space with falling-in façades and concrete floor, the same as in the plaza; here you can hardly feel inside yet. Walking deeper you are entering reading rooms – floor by floor - which are connected by two atriums focused to the forest. Inside spaces are universal and easily transformed. A diversity of reading stations can be found – from hidden single cabin to informal group work spaces.


The University of Vilnius falls into the contemporary Lithuanian architecture school. It is the result of the collaboration of the design team from Paleko ARCH studio. According to Rolandas Palekas, the designer of the project, the architectural design of the Library of the University of Vilnius is inspired by the stones on the outskirt of the forest – a remarkable phenomenon of nature, unique in form and composition, an arbitrary arrangement without any obvious order, yet still powerful, striking and unmissable. NBK worked closely with the design team, so as to create more possibilities for architectural design. To meet the requirement of the architectural project, designers from NBK conducted long-time test and adjusted the thickness, color and texture of ceramic panels. In the end, white ceramic panels with 15 different cross sections were developed, which not only meets the structural requirements of the building, but also offers ventilation, rainproof and heat insulation effects.


Rolandas Palekas believes that the library, as a landmark building on the site, should be comfortably accessible. As a result, white ceramic elements are used to clad the three strikingly inclined individual buildings that are connected to each other via a glazed atrium. Large panels were used for the façade. They were arranged in such a way that the terracotta panels are perfectly horizontal and all joints and gaps run parallel around the building. 50mm thick ceramic panels were fitted to the walkable roof surfaces. The inclined structure necessitated a range of different oblique cuts for the façade elements, with a total of seven different angles of inclination, which resulted in 15 different moulds shaped with individual cross section. The panels were mounted with special joint seals to ensure that the outer skin of the building is downpour-proof, particularly with regard to the inclined façades. An individual solution for the support system of the roof cladding was also developed. The joints were left open here, as a result of which water can be channeled underneath the terracotta panels. Thanks to the sophisticated techniques and professional expertise of NBK, the complex terracotta trim is being manufactured and assembled in the space of just five months. The author comes from NBK Germany

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