© Jonas Minkevičius, 1982.
Saved! Former Kindergarten in Visaginas
By Dalia Matukonytė, Visaginas, Lithuania

Docomomo International was recently informed by the Visaginas Community that the decision not to place the former kindergarten located at Vilties str. 3, Visaginas, under the protection of the Department of Cultural heritage by Cultural heritage evaluation Council  was not accepted by the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court and so cancelled.

Threatened by demolition in mid 2020,  the former first kindergarten in Visaginas, together with its twin building were designed by the Lithuanian architect Dalia Matukonytė. Docomomo International joined the appeal of  Visaginas Community to advocate the preservation of this former kindergarten which means acting against the implementation of the plans of the Visaginas Municipality, raising attention on this case,

“Visaginas (formerly named Snechkus) was founded in 1975. It was built as a satellite town of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (almost identical to Chernobyl NPP). The whole town is a monument of soviet modernist architecture.

In the 1970s an original ensemble of two twin buildings was designed for Sniechkus settlement: Vilties str. 3 (former kindergarten nr. 1, put into operation in 1978) and Vilties str. 1 (former kindergarten nr. 3, put into operation in 1982). This architectural ensemble was unique and was included in the catalogue ‘New Lithuania’s architecture’ published in 1982.

The buildings were identical externally, but their decoration and functionality were different from the very beginning. The subject of focus is one of the two twin buildings — the former first kindergarten at Vilties str. 3.

The building at Vilties str. 3 had more valuable interior decoration. The walls of the building’s hall are still decorated with an exclusive ceramic tiles collection of Dvarcioniu ceramics [Dvarčionių keramika], it has marble and parquet floors, it used to have a winter garden, an indoor marble fountain, indoor granite flowerbeds, etc.

Unfortunately, after Ignalina NPP was shut down in 2009 Visaginas faced massive immigration — the population has decreased almost by half. Due to that, the Municipality of Visaginas has closed several schools and kindergartens until better times including the building at Vilties str. 3. It was left unsupervised and without heating for 10 years — easy prey for vandals and marauders. However, the Municipality of Visaginas does not hold itself responsible for the building’s current bad condition and wants to tear it down to create a park or to build a cheap building instead.”

Even having this decision of the Cultural heritage evaluation Council been considered unreasonable by the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, Visaginas Community continues concerned about the case and following it on close eye, hopping that the protection of the former Kindergarten is respected.

The previous heritage in danger notice about the former kindergarten, as well as Docomomo International’s letters of support can be read here.