How to tell young people about ecological and climate change issues? What kind of building and environment would attract students to an Education Centre dedicated to such issues? These are the questions that over a hundred Lithuanian schoolchildren will seek to answer in the international project “Design. Engineer. Construct! Lithuania”.
The project, organized by Kaunas University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engneering and Architecture (KTU FCEA) for the third year already, will involve 6 schools: the KTU Engineering Lyceum, Kaunas “Saulės”, Vilnius Žemynos, Panevėžys J. Balčikonis, Klaipėda “Ąžuolynas” and Šiauliai “J. Janonis” gymnasiums.
Some of them gathered on 16 September for the opening of the new season of the project, where they were not only introduced to the theme of the project, the first indications on how to start designing their own building, but also got acquainted with the ecological problems and how the participants themselves can contribute to their solution.
Speaking about the project’s progress, Laura Jankauskaitė-Jurevičienė, lecturer at KTU FCEA and project coordinator, said that as in the case of creating any architectural object, the participants will start their project by analysing what has already been done in the world, which objects have been built, and in which environment the building will be designed.
“This year the participants will analyse what are the most important ecological problems in the world and in Lithuania. After evaluating this information, the teams will have to choose their own area to highlight in the project. They will then have to define their vision, come up with a name and logo. In the next phase, participants will develop an architectural concept, draw plans for the building and the site. Finally, participants will have to prepare a 3D model of the building and describe how they will address the various engineering issues, from the building structure, the choice of materials and the heating and ventilation technology. Experts and students from different fields will help participants find answers to these and other questions,” she said.
“Design. Engineer. Construct! Lithuania” project is being organised for the third year already, together with the partners from Great Britain – “Class of Your Own”. In 2020-2021, the teams worked on the House of Music in Kaunas, and in the first year, the project started with the James Bond Hotel in London.
Žaneta Stasiškienė, Director of the KTU Institute of Environmental Engineering, told the participants about the world problems and how they relate to cities. According to the scientist, it is very important that cities and all projects are developed in a harmonious way and in a way that is in harmony with different groups and their different needs, and that the centre itself should be an example of how environmentally friendly buildings should work.
Audronė Telešienė, professor and sociologist at KTU, talked about people’s attitudes towards climate change, different groups and what information they should be given.
According to her, about 20% of Lithuanians are not concerned about climate change problems. Of those who are concerned, a minority associate the effects of climate change with their immediate environment. According to the researcher, this is natural, as this topic is usually presented with news from all over the world, but rarely linked to Lithuanian issues. She invited the participants to make sure that the centre they are creating thinks about how to present the possible effects of climate change in a way that is relevant to everyone.
Architect Gintautas Natkevičius, who is currently working on the Science Island Centre in Kaunas, shared his experience and advice with the participants. He invited the participants to imagine from the very beginning how they would behave if they entered such a building, what kind of premises they would need and what they would expect to find.
In addition to presentations by invited guests, the opening event gave participants the opportunity to see the presentation of the team that completed last year’s Music House task and received the highest marks in different areas, and to analyse the solutions of all teams.
The project coordinators reminded the participants that the project works in teams, completing the assignments stage by stage, throughout the school year until May, and that the participants’ work will be reviewed several times during the course of the project by various experts who will share their advice.
The event partners are the KTU Centre for Smart Cities and Infrastructure and Bentley Systems.