Žalgiris Arena – the messages encoded within
Curious glances follow the arena as people pass by, as the finishing touches are being added to the Žalgiris Arena, which is built on the Nemunas Island in Kaunas. But few do know that the lead architect Eugenijus Miliūnas, called the philosophic architect, encoded more than just one important message within this work.
The message within
Žalgiris Arena facade is made of natural materials - glass, concrete and metal. Team of architects sought to reveal the beauty of the aging material. The facade of the arena has a unique 1,000 square meter metal wall, which, after the first rain, is already naturally encrust with rust.
“A man is getting older, his hair becomes gray. What should he do? Does he need to dye his hair and pretend to be young? Both people, and materials age over time, though some more beautifully than others. We are trying to say: let's grow old beautifully. Let us age proudly and beautifully. The corrosion and scratches on the metal are not to be feared. It still remains true. After all, fallen leaves, worn-out shoes, and an old desk are still beautiful to people. Yes, and the arena will change in time, but with dignity”, – said E. Miliūnas.
Both in the inside and on the outside of the arena aesthetics are developed from functional parts, the building has a number of open spaces. The modern building denies the old tradition of heavily decorated front, known as the facade, when the sides and the interior of a building receive far less attention. The facades of nonagon shaped arena are different, but they are all equally important.
“No house (and everything else) can have beautiful and ugly parts; everything should be as nice as possible. Same with a man – a man has to be beautiful both on the outside and on the inside. All has to be beautiful” – said E. Miliūnas, adding that the message encoded in the arena will not necessarily be understood in the same way by everyone. “Architecture is not literature. People will come here, and other associations may rise up, depending on their life experience”, – said E. Miliūnas.
The atmosphere of a theater
In Žalgiris Arena one could detect architectural clues, that can be associated with a time when Kaunas was ruled by A. Smetona. This style, developed when a lot of great architects worked in the city, dominates in Kaunas.
“This period of the city is reflected in dark brown or black colors, massive staircases, granite plaster. The details are not many, but we sought that one could associatively feel that this building was born in Kaunas, and not any other city”, – said E. Miliūnas.
Arena interior is dominated by glass and black, brown and gray-brown colors. Dark tapestry of chairs was woven in the United States under a custom request by the designers of the arena. Black thread interwoven with brown creates different effects when exposed to different lighting: in better lit conditions brown and gray tones become more expressed, and in the dark, during a concert, chairs will look as black as in a theater.
"We wanted to create an impression that would remind you more of a theater, rather than a sports stadium. After all, this building is meant for the community, and Kaunas community is interested not only in basketball. Theater and musical traditions run deep in our city. We would like the arena to be also a space for culture community” – said the architect.