The Lithuania House of Basketball Museum is a focal point in the town of Kaunas. The museum sits near the medieval Kaunas castle and Santaka park, where the two largest Lithuanian rivers converge. Designed by G. Natkevicius & Partners, the project stands out as a contemporary building in the urban fabric of the old quarter of the city.
Because of the museum’s location, the architects had to consider that the building façade would be like a sculpture all around. Meaning: It would be visible from all sides. The museum can even be seen from above, from nearby multi-story buildings, church towers and from the slope of the Aleksotas hill across the Neman River.
The House of Basketball’s sculptural façade consists of three primary materials. The front elevation allows for views in and out of the museum through alternating thin, vertical sheets of glass and aluminum framing. Other parts of the façade are more opaque and clad with large, diagonal strips of copper sheets. As the copper will patina over time, the oxidation process will cause the metal to transform to a richer, reddish-brown shade, alluding to the red brick masonry buildings in the city.
The museum’s horseshoe form creates a courtyard space at the center. The building wraps around the 100-year-old oak tree that serves as the building’s central axis. Its centrality allows it to be visible from inside the building, while its branches stretch over the rooftop and is visible to passersby.
All internal elevations of the courtyard consist of the same vertical glass ribbons and dark aluminum framing as the entry façade. In the near future, the museum plans to erect a statue of James Naismith, the Canadian that invented basketball in 1891. The statue will be placed alongside the central oak tree to emphasize Naismith’s legacy and reinforce the axis around which the building is centered.
Although the exterior of the building incorporates simple and elegant materiality, the interior pushes this to an extreme and favors ultra-minimalism. It features concrete structural elements and black and white finishes, which serve as a backdrop for the exhibitions and events.
Images by Lukas Mykolaitis and Martynas Plepys