WE BUILT THIS CITY

Kazakhstan 2015 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | B2B

TBY talks to Rolandas Kliucinskas, Architect in Chief and Partner, and Algirdas Urbonas, Architect of Almaty Vilnius Architects, on moving beyond utilitarianism, improving dialogue with clients, and architecture that creates experiences.

Rolandas Kliucinskas
ROLANDAS KLIUCINSKAS
Architect in Chief and Partner
Almaty Vilnius Architects
Algirdas Urbonas
ALGIRDAS URBONAS
Architect
Almaty Vilnius Architects

What is the current situation in Kazakhstan, especially in Almaty for architectural and design firms?

ROLANDAS KLIUCINSKAS The local environment is dynamic, and the field is still growing. The quality of the buildings here in Kazakhstan differ significantly from the West, and a lot has to be done to elevate the local standards in terms of quality. The issue is that architects are not involved in professional and high-quality projects. This is the mission of Almaty Vilnius Architects: we are here to bring innovative standards and solutions

ALGIRDAS URBONAS When you look at medium-scale projects in this region, the difference between our projects, and the rest becomes apparent. Local firms are focusing on the utilization of the building—at the expense of the details. Almaty Vilnius Architects are introducing a new approach; we are focusing on the whole project and paying attention to the details, with a professional approach, and doing extensive consultation as well. Local companies are not able to handle the technical requirements. Moreover we use innovative and international IT solutions for designing our projects.

Can you describe the company's approach to the projects?

AU Our activity is characterized by several phases starting with research, which is a fundamental premise for our work. This means starting out by gauging the viability of a project. The second pillar is taking a holistic approach. We identify all the possible challenges and obstacles that we will face during the implementation of the project, from the beginning to the end. Our target is the real object, always. A real object exists in more ways than its architectural manifestation; it has to serve its intended purpose. We work both on the architectural project and on the interior design. A holistic approach to the project is the distinctive signature of Almaty Vilnius Architects. The dialogue with the clients is another crucial component—we ensure a clear and effective communication between our team and the client.

Who are your clients in the local market?

RK If a potential client wants to make a “box" with something in it, we send him or her elsewhere. This is not our type of client. Not every client is in a position to make the level of investment we require. The projects we take on determine our status in the market and our level of professionalism. While we may not yet be “archi-stars," we still create a quality product, which takes time. This is very important.

AU We see importance of value through demonstration. People may say that our projects are expensive, but well-planned projects actually save money during construction. The workers and builders won't waste their time. They will know what they have to do because they have a detailed project with specific and technical details. The alternative approach requires guesswork, due to incomplete planning which creates problems.

RK We do work both for companies and for private individuals. Almaty Vilnius Architects is currently working on a residential complex, and on two private villas. These projects are characterized by innovative spatial solutions, and from an architectural point of view these projects are really complex and challenging. We work a lot with restaurants, which present a big challenge. Customers patronize restaurants for more than their food. The hunger ends after five minutes, but the environment transcends the entire dining experience. The challenge is to make people stay for two hours, which is how the restaurant makes money. Creating the right ambience is a complicated interplay of architecture and interior design.