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"Pažanga" Office Building

Kaunas, Lithuania
1 of 16
Pazangos bendroves biuras

The building of Pažanga company was built in 1934 on the plot of 53 in Laisves Avenue. At the time, it had various organisations and institutions associated with the ruling Nationalist Party. The ground floor, dedicated to commerce, which housed a modern haberdashery shop of the Parama company and a bookstore of the Dirva company. This part of the building faces the boulevard with almost hidden recessed entrances, and the large and curtained windows, designed to entice the customer, echo the volumes of the upper parts of the building.

The other floors of the building housed the Pažanga company itself, which published and distributed books and periodicals, the editorial office of the newspaper Lietuvos Aidas, the national youth union Jaunoji Lietuva, the Nationalists' Club, and in 1935 a restaurant. It was open not only to nationalists but also to the general public. An elevator was installed inside the building to take them up to the flat-roofed terrace and look out over the city, where tall buildings were still a rarity in the skyline.

The large courtyard of the building housed the central board of the Union of Nationalists, while the basement housed a meeting room lit by skylights. The State Central Bookstore and Library moved here. As in the case of the Dairy Centre, the building also made room for apartments. The building was occupied for a time by Prime Minister J. Tūbel and in 1935 by V. Mironas.

The "Pažangos" company was founded in 1928 by the ruling Union of Nationalists as an ideological publishing and distribution institution. Therefore, it is not surprising that the building's décor is based on interpretations of the "national style", and that the architect F. Vizbaras, a proponent of this style and an architect of other important public and private matters houses in the capital, was invited to design the building.

In this multi-storey building with a multiplanar façade composition, the dynamic and expressive volumes of the building are intertwined with national motifs and ornamentation in an Art Deco style: geometric zigzags on the balcony railing, imitation wood carvings in the interstitial windows, stylised cornice with a vegetal motif on the eaves, and the stepped open-worked wall that covers the roof terrace. The interior is also rich in stylised elements of 'national' decor.

One of the most representative buildings of interwar Kaunas, it became home to various research organisations and a university during the Soviet era. The courtyard of the palace was furnished with apartments. Many Kaunas residents remember the "Goods for Children" shop on the ground floor behind the old round roofs. In 1989, the building was given to Vytautas Magnus University. It housed the Faculty of Theology-Philosophy (later Catholic Theology) and various university services. Later, the Faculty of Arts replaced Catholic Theology. In 2015, the European Commission's decision included 44 objects of interwar modernist architecture in Kaunas, including the Pažanga Palace, on the European Heritage Label list. Unfortunately, this title did not become the impetus for the revival of the palace. After standing unused for a long time, the university sold the building at auction in 2019.

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