Kaunas Modernist Architecture and UNESCO

Kaunas Modernist Architecture and the UNESCO World Heritage List

The question of the possible granting of UNESCO World Heritage status to Kaunas modernist architecture was first raised officially in 2013 by initiating discussions and putting on exhibitions.

In 2014, in parallel with the preparation of the application for the award of the European Heritage Label (EHL) to Kaunas interwar architecture (the EHL was awarded in 2015), the Kaunas City Municipality Council adopted the decision “On the Approval to Include Kaunas Interwar Modernist Architecture in the UNESCO Tentative World Heritage List”. 

In 2016, the cross-institutional working group formed by the order of the Minister of Culture prepared a tentative application to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, informing of Lithuania’s intention to define this value and the possibility to inscribe it on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In January 2017, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre informed the Ministry of Culture that the submitted application met the necessary requirements, and Kaunas modernist architecture was included in the Tentative List of Lithuania, a party to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and forwarded to the competent advisory bodies to familiarize themselves with the information therein.

The preparation of a nomination dossier/application was started in 2017. “The intention to inscribe Kaunas modernist architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage List” was included as work to be undertaken in 5.5.12 (5) of Resolution No. 167 of the Government of Lithuania “On the Approval of the Plan of Measures for the Implementation of the Programme of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania” of 13 March 2017, as part of the plan of measures to be implemented in the programme of the Government of Lithuania and approved by the forementioned Resolution.

At the end of 2020, the nomination dossier “Modernist Kaunas: Architecture of Optimism, 1919–1939” was prepared in close cooperation between the Ministry of Culture, the Kaunas City Municipality and other interested institutions, experts and researchers. It includes a description and well-based documentation on the exceptional universal value of Kaunas modernist architecture, together with a comparative analysis and a draft management plan for this area.

In November 2020, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre stated that the project of the Kaunas modernist architecture nomination dossier meets the administrative requirements for the application. In this context, and in accordance with the provisions of the Guidelines for the Implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, the final version of the nomination dossier was submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee through the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in January 2021. It is expected that Kaunas modernist architecture will be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List by 2023.

Nomination Dossier. Modernist Kaunas: Architecture of Optimism, 1919-1939

Information about the Nomination Dossier

Press release on the submission of the application

Film "Kaunas Modernism – Architecture of Optimism" (6 min.)

Last updated: 16-03-2021