February 2, 2004
An Architecture Collective Provokes Conservative Lithuania
A founding member of the architecture collective Private Ideology, Valdas Ozarinskas is part of a new generation of Lithuanian builders.
Valdas Ozarinskas is wearing his customary blue jump suit when I meet him in his office at the Contemporary Art Centre, a disjunctively modern building installed in the historic center of Vilnius, Lithuania. A founding member of the architecture collective Private Ideology, Ozarinskas is part of a new generation of Lithuanian builders: one that challenges the country’s current architectural tendencies toward either a mythologized past or an outright imitation of Western forms.
Private Ideology’s assimilation of Scandinavian minimalism, Dutch supermodernism, and post-Communist utopian nostalgia has been realized mostly in spare drawings and models. Yet the group has built a handful of projects—including a gas station, several residences, and the Lithuanian offices of advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi—that have challenged local orthodoxies. A case in point is the collective’s pavilion for the European Union’s Hanover 2000 Expo, which so riled the Lithuanian Architects’ Association that it charged the Ideologists with “discrediting the professional community.”
Authorities upset by the pavilion complained that it had nothing to do with the national culture, which may have been the point. After all, the experiments of Private Ideology and other like-minded designers offer new possibilities for Lithuania at a moment when its citizens’ rejection of their totalitarian past has left the country struggling to find its own identity. This clash between Lithuania’s old traditions and future directions plays out in Vilnius’s built environment.