Opening of the Britanika hotel

Program: Intervention
Team: Office De Architectura in collaboration with Andrius Pukis, KAFe 2019 & GHIA.
Type: Commission
Location: Kaunas, Lithuania
Year: 2019
Photos: Vaidotas Žukauskis
Video: Vaidas Bulikas
Thanks to: Vaidas Bulikas, Mikas Jarašiūnas, Gediminas Pašvenskas, Neringa Sobeščukaitė, Elvinas Žabas.

For many years, ‘Britanika’ remained as one of the most famous and tallest abandoned buildings in Kaunas, overlooking spectacular panoramas of the city. The hotel construction started in the eighties when high-rise hotels in Soviet Lithuania was a rather peculiar phenomenon of public architecture, however, it was never finished. After Lithuania regained independence, the hotel became a symbol of incompetence. During thirty years of its existence, the hotel infused itself to the panorama of Kaunas, but at the same time, its presence was ignored and witnessing the overwhelming vistas from the top of the hotel was illegal. The hotel is the highest building in the central part of the city going up 14-storeys with astonishing top views and has become a birthplace of many artistic manifests. It is like a sponge without programmed function, incomplete and open for future imagination.

For the Kaunas Architecture Festival, we created an intervention – organised the first-ever opening of this abandoned hotel to see what it takes to turn a building from a concrete ghost to a beloved landmark. This temporal intervention created a new narrative for the hotel – forbidden city panoramas first time in 30 years were legal and truly public. The building was finally open. During 2 days of the intervention around 1500 visitors had an opportunity to visit it. It was first and probably last time it was open – there are plans to demolish it. But until then it lives its invisible life, undoubtedly creating new stories.