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Užvingis Island Bridge Declared the Successful Candidate in Design Competition of Bridge Across the Neris

The Architects’ Chamber of Lithuania has seen the selection of top three architectural ideas for a bridge across the Neris river today.  After the opening of tenders and calculation of the Commission votes, Užvingio Salos Tiltas (Užvingis Island Bridge), the idea offered by a team from Tec Infrastructure, UAB, Teka Takas designed by a team from Unitectus, UAB, and V700, the idea for a bridge developed by INHUS Engineering, UAB, were declared the top three successful candidates.

“Erection of bridges is not something you see on a daily basis. The latest footbridge in Vilnius was constructed almost 15 years ago. This new bridge will change the quality of life of 100,000 Vilnius city dwellers residing in the surrounding areas. For this reason, not only must it be convenient and functional but also aesthetical and modern; it will be a state-of-the-art piece of architecture in an exclusive location. The reviving Vingis Park is bursting with life all the time. The bridge will be a very convenient way to the park visitors the number of  whom grows annually. The park sees from 300,000 to 400,000 people over a season,” Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius noted.

The results of this competition have demonstrated that it open architectural competitions is not the only way to find the best architectural solutions. It is the third bridge design competition won the team of KILD architects – Ivane Ksnelašvili, Petras Išora, Dominykas Daunys, Ona Lozuraitytė – and TEC Infrastructure, UAB. This team was also successful in the competitions in Seoul and Kaunas.

The Commission declared the Užvingio Salos Tiltas concept the winner for its originality: the team has designed a bridge which serves as a point above the water were bike paths and pedestrian walkways meet and where the two flows of movement divide into two again and go different directions. The centre of the bridge will have terraces installed so that everyone could take a seat and enjoy the view of the Neris valley and the park. The idea of the bridge is harmoniously incorporated into the scenery – it solves the problem of the river bank slope on the side of the river which features the Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre Litexpo.

“We are delighted to discover that the Commission has noticed and liked our idea. The bridge is more than a mere structure linking two riversides. To develop the idea of a bridge we delved into archives. So our project is the result of some deeper insights into the city of Vilnius and its history. We learned that there was an island of Užvingis (Lithuanian Užvingio sala) in this place which was an integral element found in the vicinity of Vingis Park until the end of the 19th century. It is an important and iconic area in front of a former Jesuit building complex.  Our project is not only about a connection but also about a place, a bridge and a park as a single unit encompassing all these items and reviving the historical public space as well as strengthening it. We chose a harmonious and sustainable attitude towards the environment so as to cause the minimum impact on nature and fish migration possible. We also seek to preserve the geological formation, namely, the ravine, at the water extraction point,” Petras Išora explained.

The winners of the idea hope that Vilnius city dwellers will soon be able to see their idea in the flesh: the park featuring the bridge as the centre of a reborn and newly growing site.

The second best idea was offered by the authors of Teka Takas from Unitectus, UAB. Their idea of a bridge was distinguished for urban integrity, wholeness, for that it is not overburdened with functions or other architectural elements. The authors offer a space for relaxation and a terrace which would be integrated into the natural environment through its organic shapes on the right bank of the river. The team also offers to establish a Litexpo information point, a drinking water fountain, an overlook area, and a public space – a square with plantations.

The third bridge design idea selected by the Commission was the idea V 700 offered by INHUS Engineering, UAB. The authors designed a suspension bridge made of lightweight and elegant structures curving from one river bank to the other. The bridge links the opposite banks of the river at the same time being harmoniously integrated into the existing environment of the park.

According to the chair of the Lithuanian Union of Architects Ms Rūta Leitanaitė, Vilnius City Municipality had an ambition to develop one more public space in the city which would also serve as an architectural landmark:  “the terms and conditions of the tender set a precedent; the organisers of the competition managed to harmonise the provisions of the Law on Public Procurement and the architectural requirements to make the competition attractive for creators and developers. Every effort was made to have an idea of a cost-effective and simple bridge which would become a new exclusive object in the city. We received the total of 16 design proposals with a variety of ideas”.

During the next stage of this competition, there is the assessment of documents submitted by the finalists pending, following which it will become clear in May, whether there are no legal obstacles to announce final results and award the winners bonus prizes: the winner of the first place will be given EUR 9,000, the second prize will amount to EUR 7,000, and the winners of the third place will be awarded EUR 4,000.

The winner of the best idea will also be awarded a contract. During the next phase the plans will be drawn for preparation of a technical design and the announcement of a construction tender. The provisional amount of EUR 5 million was allocated for the development of the project and carrying out of construction works. It is estimated that the footbridge should be built in four years. No new footbridges have been constructed across the Neris in Vilnius since 2003.

A footbridge is planned to emerge in the area between Vingis Park and Litexpo Centre. It will connect Lazdynai and Vilkpėdė residential areas with the residential area of Naujamiestis, and will enable pedestrians and cyclists to reach the Litexpo Exhibition and Congress Centre more conveniently. Besides, it will encourage the city dwellers to move around the city using a bicycle or any other environmentally-friendly means of transport. According to plans, a bridge across the Neris will also help solve the car parking problem on both riversides of the Neris.

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