An office block in Vilnius is given an industrial look in keeping with history

A new district, Paupys, has been constructed next to the old town of Lithuania’s capital Vilnius. With paupys meaning ‘riverside’, the district derives its names from its location by a river. In addition to high-quality residential buildings, the area contains office and commercial premises. 

The development of the district on the whole was divided into five sub-areas and Audrius Ambrasas Architects was commissioned to design an area consisting of office and commercial buildings, which included a market hall and a cinema. 

Architect Audrius Ambrasas explains that the plot originally contained an industrial building dating back to the Soviet era, which was not architecturally valuable. Because the building and the soil in the area were badly contaminated, the building was demolished and the soil was replaced, enabling the architects to start their work with a clean slate. 

New buildings in keeping with history 

The area’s industrial history goes back to the 19th century, which served as a source of inspiration for the architects. As the cladding of the area’s largest building, which houses offices and commercial premises, the architects selected Ruukki’s Cor-Ten steel sheets and rectangular tubes made of the same material. The other façade material is concrete. 

‘Cor-Ten and concrete are both natural materials and they go well together. Cor-Ten was selected as one of the cladding materials because we wanted to give the building an industrial atmosphere in honour of the area’s history,’ explains architect Audrius Ambrasas. 

In addition to highlighting the building’s additional features, the Cor-Ten cladding has a functional purpose. The area of the building that houses air-conditioning machines was surfaced with Cor-Ten steel sheets that allow air to circulate. In addition to façades, Cor-Ten was used in the building’s canopies, door and window flashings, chimneys and access route kerb structures. 

The end result wins over critics 

Architect Audrius Ambrasas explains that it took a little while to convince the property’s owner of Cor-Ten’s superb qualities as a cladding material. According to him, projects typically have a turning point when the customer learns to trust the architect fully. This project was no exception. 

‘When people working in an office building are taking selfies with the façade as the backdrop, you know they are happy with the building and proud of it,’ says Audrius Ambrasas. 

For the architect’s vision to materialise as a finished building, Ruukki, the installation company and the architect had to work in seamless collaboration. 

‘For me, this was the first building realised with Cor-Ten. I’m happy with the building and the area as a whole. If something turned out to be wrong, the fault certainly wouldn’t lie in the materials,’ explains Audrius Ambrasas. 

According to Audrius Ambrasas, what are the applications Cor-Ten is suitable for? 

‘Cor-Ten is suitable for all kinds of buildings, from industrial facilities to residential properties. In general, there are no poor materials but poor plans that make the material unsuitable for the application.’