© Jonas Minkevičius, 1982.
Former Kindergarten in Visaginas under threat of demolition
By Dalia Matukonytė, Visaginas, Lithuania

Docomomo International is now appealing to your foremost interest and concern regarding the situation of the former first kindergarten in Visaginas, Lithuania, which is now under the threat of demolition.

“Visaginas (formerly named Snechkus) is a relatively new town (44 years old). 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.

According to preliminary information, the author of this ensemble was a Lithuanian architect Dalia Matukonytė (married name Dalia Kemežiene; 1950-2012), who was born and worked in Kaunas, Lithuania.

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.”

Docomomo International and the Visaginas Community are urgently asking for International help to advocate the preservation of this former kindergarten which means acting against the implementation of the plans of the Visaginas Municipality.

Docomomo International Letters of Support:
Support Letter_Department of the Cultural heritage of Lithuania
Support Letter_Ministry of Culture of Lithuania

Currently, Docomomo International is waiting for the request regarding the Former Kindergarten building complex preservation to be considered by the Cultural heritage evaluation Council session in September 2020.