Historical achievement: Unity Square was recognized as the best in the prestigious world design and architecture competition

Unity Square in Kaunas won the world-renowned, international iF Design award in the category of architecture. This is a historic achievement, as the completed architectural object received such an assessment for the first time not only in Lithuania, but also in the Baltic States. The SBA renovated square project was developed and implemented together with the international architects and designers 3deluxe.

The international Commission of one of the largest design and architecture competitions in Europe granted the award not only for its architectural idea, form, functionality. Unity Square received the highest number of points for its role for the citizens – the life-filled urban space was recognized as gathering residents, business and thus fulfilling its social purpose.

“The project, which has a lot of strength and resources, has been recognized in the top league of design and architecture, where thousands of impressive projects from all over the world compete every year. Therefore, the whole of Lithuania can be proud of such an assessment of Unity Square on an international scale. The square was reborn – it became a lively centre of attraction for Kaunas residents, city guests and the business community. Seeing this and being the initiators and implementers of these changes together, we feel a great sense of meaning,” says Lionginas Šepetys, Chairman of the Board of SBA Urban. According to him, the renewal of urban spaces often poses significant challenges and discussions. Therefore, during the implementation of the project, efforts were made to respectfully integrate into the already existing urban space and at the same time enrich and renovate it so that the city dwellers would feel comfortable here and would like to spend time.

Focus on the harmony of green areas and the modern city

The iF Design Award is one of Europe’s largest design competitions, launched in Germany going on for almost 70 years. An international commission of 98 architecture and design professionals from 21 countries selected the best projects of the year from almost 10 thousand participants. This is the largest scope of the competition in the history of the awards. Every year, the competition receives a wide range of applications, from well-known architectural companies to iF Design Award-winning global giants in various categories – Apple, BMW, Samsung, Google and more. The renovated Unity Square has earned recognition in the architectural category. Here, the jury pays special attention to the harmony between external and internal spaces, an important highlight becomes the connections of the natural environment, greenery with modern minimalism and historical heritage. The Commission evaluates participants of the competition taking into account the idea of ​​the project and its relevance, form, functionality and its simplicity, novelty and how the project serves the public.”Unity Square has become an example of solving one of the most complex architectural challenges of our time. The big challenge is to transform the city’s objects into a human-friendly, comfortable living, sustainable space. I believe this project is becoming an example for cities around the world. One of the strongest parts of this project is form and functionality. The organic lines and shapes we sought reflect the dynamic life of people in the city. From places of rest to entertainment, sports, communication – everything in one place,” says Dieter Brell, Creative Director of 3deluxe. According to D. Brell, one of the biggest challenges in renovating the square was the integration of a modern concept into the rich history of Kaunas. “It’s a delicate task, but the moments of last summer, when the square was full of life – from families playing with children to skateboarders – testify to our authors that the challenge was overcome successfully,” says the architect.Living space for residents and the business communityThe renovation of Unity Square was completed in May 2020. The SBA Group has invested more than 10 million euros in the entire square renovation project. This is the largest investment in the square project in Lithuania. Kaunas Municipality contributed to the reconstruction by purchasing additional granite paving for more than 1 million euros. The idea of ​​the renovation of Unity Square was to create a lively, pulsating urban space, where both Kaunas residents and the surrounding business communities would feel comfortable and cosy.“After the reconstruction, Unity Square has become a special centre of attraction from the very first days. Not only Kaunas residents, but also guests of our city have become fascinated with it. I am glad that this is acknowledged both by the visitors themselves and by the competent professionals who give solid evaluations to this project. We have proven that the city can achieve great results by cooperating with business. This year, Kaunas will renovate an integral part of Unity Square – the Student Square beyond K. Donelaičio Street. So this space will soon gain even more life,” says Kaunas Mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis.Renovation of SBA Unity Square and adjacent BLC buildings began in winter in 2017. During the reconstruction, a new light paving was laid in the square, green oases with more than 5 thousand various plants were created, a dozen mature trees were planted. A tree grown from a willow twig planted by the legendary singer A. Šabaniauskas is growing rapidly in the square. Special plastic shapes for extreme sports enthusiasts were manually formed. The square was also decorated with the most modern fountain in the country with 40 jets, an artificial stream, benches for quiet rest, lighting. Access to the square was arranged, and an underground parking lot was installed. Next to the BLC business centre, spacious café terraces are open in the warm season, where city dwellers not only relax but also enjoy coffee or lunch.The exceptional concept and the harmony of modern architecture and history gained international recognition for Unity Square even before the project was implemented in reality. Two years ago, the architectural concept of the square was also recognized as the best and received one of the most prestigious awards for architects in the world at the international German design awards. The total investment of SBA Urban in Unity Square in Kaunas and the nearby BLC2 business centre amounts to about 40 million euros.