Symbolic Geographies, Nordic Inspirations, and Baltic Identities
Finnish Impact on the Formation of the Postwar Modernist Architecture in Lithuania during the State Socialist period
Keywords:socialist modernism, Lithuanian school of modern architecture, modernism in Lithuania, Nordic influence, Vilnius, Lazdynai, Composers’ Village, Čekanaus
"In Finland we really felt architecture", Lithuanian architect Vytautas Čekanauskas used to say remembering his first study trip to Finland in 1959. Impact of Nordic design is often emphasised when discussing Baltic design of the State Socialist period. When new residential districts in the 1960s were built among the trees in existing pine forests, as happened in Āgenskalna Priedesin Riga, Mustamäe in Tallinn, and Lazdynai in Vilnius, then Tapiola in Helsinki was most often cited as inspiration. Indeed, as opportunities for tourist travel and foreign exchange programs increased in the late 1950s, the Soviet Architects' Association began to organize professional delegations that included several representatives from each of the Baltic republics, dispatched on fact-finding missions to Finland. But why Nordic concept of regionalism became so important in the formation of the Baltic post-war modernism ? In the paper it is argued, that Finnish modern architecture, that was experienced at first hand during the study trips, was perceived as an acceptable model for the Baltic architects who wished to belong to the international community of modern architecture, yet retaining a national idiom and being distinctive within the USSR.