With a population of 300,000 inhabitants, Kaunas is the second largest city of Lithuania. Known for being the temporary capital city of the independent Republic of Lithuania during the interwar period, Kaunas sought to become a modern European city. Lithuanian architects started to design and build houses in the style of modernism – in German called the Bauhaus – which was avant-garde in Europe at that time. Today, this legacy remains, and design and architecture are still the main driving sectors of the city’s creative economy.
Kaunas intends to make this rich legacy a steppingstone to foster a modern, creative and inclusive city. A wide cultural offering is provided through the city’s 60 museums and galleries, as well as festivals and fairs such as the Kaunas Architecture Festival (KAFe), the Design Week and the Kaunas Biennial. In addition, the city is home to the Architecture and Urbanism Research Centre, which supports design-driven creative hubs integrating features of traditional architecture into the modern urban life.
As the architecture of buildings and streets retains the city’s cultural identity while emphasizing collective memory, the municipality has dedicated a large area of the old town to cultural and creative events. The city has made itself an environment conducive for creativity by establishing facilities for young entrepreneurs, such as the Talent Garden Kaunas and the Arts Incubator. Urban creativity, good quality of life and sustainable urban development are at the core of the on-going strategic development plan of Kaunas until 2022.
As a Creative City of Design, Kaunas envisages:
- creating a municipal funding programme aimed to support the mobility of young artists and students through residencies and exchange programmes within the UCCN;
- nurturing collective memory with the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to develop an site for interactive memory storage, and new applications showcasing and revalorizing the city’s artistic heritage from the interwar years; and
- developing joint initiatives with other Creative Cities of Design, including brainstorming sessions on how to invest the public space with works of design to improve quality of urban life.