At the end of the last week, the winners of creative ideas workshops and competition “Adaptive Capsule” were announced. During “Kaunas Design Event” organised by “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022”, the participants had to create a transformable, closed communication spatial structure where at least 2 people could safely communicate at the same time. The proposed solutions were to meet the safety requirements of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Prototypes of one or more projects are expected to be developed as soon as possible.

“In a particularly short time, great ideas were developed and presented. This is pleasantly surprising. For all teams, I wish to keep going: if you had not won, think about how the product could be improved, implemented and would receive funding“, – one of the members of the jury, Vladas Lašas, addressed the participants.
23 Lithuanian and international teams participated in the workshops., 3 were selected from these, sharing three second places. After a day and a half of debate, the jury’s votes were evenly divided. The financial prices were awarded to teams “V2” (mentor – Mindaugas Butvila),  “K.A.R.S.” and to the international team “Intercontinental4” (mentor – Lorenzo Piazzi). An incentive financial price was awarded to the team “Žaluma” (mentors – Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonai)as well.
Team “Noah’s Ark” (Lith. “Nojaus arka”) (mentors – Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonai), “WE.TALK” and “J&L architects“ and Deividas Giedraitis (mentor – Mindaugas Butvila) and Simas Petrauskas (mentor – Mindaugas Butvila) were awarded by the “Kaunas 2022” prizes.
According to one of the members of the jury, Gintaras Balčytis, man is a social being, that is why the search for social life is extremely important. He believes that all the solutions proposed will be valuable not only during the pandemic but also in the post-pandemic period. “In my opinion, the idea of workshops is very meaningful – today’s situation requires not everyday solutions, and usually they are not put forward by one oracle, but by a group of people. These workshops are the case: different teams looked at the problem from different points,“ said the architect.
The jury assessed the works according to the following criteria: safety, sociability, i.e. the capsule should ensure the possibility to stay together safely for at least two people, quality of architecture and design, the feasibility of implementation, innovation, the universality of use in public and closed spaces, and conceptuality and creativity.
The jury member Darius Milčius, a scientist at the Lithuanian Energy Institute, was pleased that many participants proposed modern technological solutions. “Participants not only presented innovative technologies for air purification, renewable energy but also took into account technical details. Most of the solutions are well-timed, thus I hope that they will be realised in the near future,“ said the researcher.
Alternative creative and technological solutions for safe communication
We are faced with an unprecedented global pandemic that affected the daily lives of all and making an impact on our relationships and communication. Physical distance is, and seems to be for some time to be one of the most important conditions for human interaction in the public space to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus.
“It is clear that there is a need for as many outdoor activities as possible, where the spread of the virus is reduced to a minimum and social interaction can take place in unchanged ways and safely. Open-air cafes, cultural and artistic events on balconies, courtyards, streets – have become the reality of the quarantine period. And this, perhaps, is one of the most obvious changes of this period, potentially becoming a “new norm”, – says the project initiator, curator of “Kaunas 2022” design programme Dr Jūratė Tutlytė. According to her, in order to ensure social life in public spaces and to prolong the seasonality of outdoor events and gatherings, these ideas competitions aimed to create a spatial structure or object, like a cocoon, which would simultaneously provide protection against adverse weather conditions and/or virus, but at the same time not impede social interaction due to its transparency and openness.
The object that the participants of the workshops had to offer was to have impeccable architectural design and adaptive – i.e. adapted to different safety measures/safety modes. It had to be smart and have specialised ventilation and/or heating system, act as an autonomous or closed system, adapted for both outdoor and possible indoor use. It is a safe and independent system of ventilation, air circulation that is recognised as one of the most important factors, and its absence became the cornerstone of the spread of the virus in places where the concentration of sick people was the highest (e.g. hospitals, cruise ships).
Teams were asked to create solutions that should act as universal modules (e.g. for two people at safe distances), which could be repeated and connected to an endless chain as needed. They should be easily assembled and dissembled. Its universal function would allow it to be used and applied to different sectors: services (e.g. outdoor cafes), event industry (culture, other events), medical (e.g. care, nursing home, others). Wherever security and a sense of togetherness are important.
Mentors of creative teams: Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonai (MIT, Cambridge (USA), Vytautas Magnus University), Kęstas Vaikšnoras (Kaunas University of Applied Sciences), Lorenzo Piazzi (Kaunas University of Technology) and Mindaugas Butvila (Vilnius Academy of Arts).
The jury was composed of five members: Laurynas Avyžius (architect, NEBRAU studio), Gintaras Balčytis (Kaunas branch of the Lithuanian Union of Architects), Vladas Lašas (entrepreneur, scientist, Council of Global Lithuanian Leaders), Darius Milčius (technologist, researcher, Lithuanian Energy Institute, Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technologies), Jūratė Tutlytė (architectologist, curator of “Kaunas 2022“ programme “Design for Happiness”)
Initiator of ideas workshops and competitions “Adaptive Capsule” – Kaunas branch of the Lithuanian Union of Architects and “Kaunas –European Capital of Culture 2022”.
The project is partly funded by the Lithuanian Council of Culture.
Photo by team „Žaluma”, „Adaptive capsule” project