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Office of the Ateitininkai Organisation

Kaunas, Lithuania
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The Lithuanian Catholic youth organisation "Ateitininkai" was formed before the First World War. A decade later, in already independent Lithuania, this movement became an organisation that was active in the country until the occupation. Ateitininkai eventually became the most popular youth organisation among schoolchildren and students and brought together senior graduates. It also encouraged the formation of various other organisations related to the Lithuanian Catholic Church. The intelligentsia, which created the ideological basis of the organisation, was actively involved in the activities. The organisation was led by famous philosophers, writers, politicians and other public figures.

In 1926, Ateitininkai authorised the construction of a four-storey brick house for a student dormitory. In 1927, during the construction process, a request was submitted for permission to raise the house to five storeys to enable a larger number of students to live there. Permission was granted, but on condition that the fifth floor also is equipped with an elevator. The archive revealed a project imbued with forms of historicism typical of the work of Feliksas Vizbaras in the early independent period. However, although it is said that construction took place on the Ateitininkai plot, the building that stands there today is very different from the original design. The surviving building of the Ateitininkai dates from around 1929.

As can be seen from the press of the time, the building was renovated and modernised shortly after it was built, in the summer of 1931. The renovation was carried out according to Algirdas Šalkauskis' project. The first architect of the building, F. Vizbaras, was highly critical of the modernisation, describing it as a style of "square boxes. As he stated, there was no justification for throwing the columns out of the hall, especially since they were not built merely for decoration but were also part of the structure, as they bear a certain amount of the weight of the masonry wall above them. Of course, if the shape of the square boxes is followed everywhere, the round columns of the Ionian Order (admittedly still incomplete due to lack of funds) may have seemed to some to be at odds with this style of boxes. In response, Šalkauskis was quick to call some of the earlier decisions architectural confusion. After adjusting the project, the savings were allocated for the construction of an additional – fifth floor. Various functions were concentrated in the building after it opened its doors: a student canteen was installed in the basement, the profitable first floor was rented for commerce (there were large windows for shops), a large event hall was located on the second floor, a primary school, various editorial offices, a bookstore, and a student dormitory on the upper floors. Such a discussion between architects demonstrates not only the different architectural schools of the old and the new generation of architects but also the rather lively architectural culture and criticism of the inter-war years. Considering that the structure of the façade itself, as seen in the archive project and the house now standing, is quite similar (three parts, side buttresses, etc.), we can assume that it is the same building but much more modernised.

At the beginning of the occupation, the activities of the organisation were declared anti-state, and the property was nationalised. After the war, the building was used by Kaunas University and later by the Polytechnic Institute. Now they are home to the Culture Centre of the Kaunas University of Technology.

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