Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-biggest city, boasts some outstanding examples of early-twentieth-century modernist architecture from the 1920s and 1930s when Kaunas was the temporary capital of the Lithuanian Republic. UNESCO Tentative List is a step in the process of having a place listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
According to the municipality’s announcement, Dennis Rodwell, expert with the ICOMOS, an association of heritage conservation and protection professionals that advises UNESCO, visited Kaunas on 29 September. He was shown the Newtown of Kaunas (Kauno Naujamiestis) and some buildings constructed between the two world wars.
Dr. Vaidas Petrulis, architecture scholar who is part of the team working on the application for UNESCO, notes that there have been fears about strict UNESCO World Heritage regulations turning the city into an open-air museum, restricting its development and regeneration opportunities.
“A lot depends on how we understand our heritage, how we present and manage it. In this case, international recognition of its exceptional importance might give an impulse to fundamentally revamp the economic and cultural environment of a place. With an attractive narrative and a creative regeneration strategy for its historic sites, Kaunas, with the support of local authorities, could join the avant-garde part of world heritage,” Dr. Petrulis said.