Architecture and Optimism
This event at the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design at London Metropolitan University brings together architecture historians, sociologists and psychologists. What relationship does mental attitude have with city branding and architectural expansion strategies?
Prof. Marija Drėmaitė, Vilnius University, architecture historian and curator of the exhibition Architecture of Optimism
Douglas Murphy, Visiting Tutor on the Architecture programme at the Royal College of Art
Adam Philips, writer and psychologist
Dr Eglė Rindzevičiūtė, Associate Professor of Criminology and Sociology at Kingston University
The exhibition Architecture of Optimism on the architecture of interwar Kaunas, curated by Marija Drėmaitė, Giedrė Jankevičiūtė and Vaidas Petrulis is about the active growth of the modernist city, proudly carrying the name of the Lithuanian capital. The main idea of this exhibition is the notion of optimism that unfolds in parallel with the Kaunas architectural boom between the wars when young architects were studying abroad and coming back to work in Lithuania. Optimism is portrayed through the scope and sheer number of new buildings built in the interwar period.
However, in this event we not only shed light on Kaunas interwar architecture, but also aim to challenge the word ‘optimism’ in this context. While buildings are simply a representation of wider problems and social economical constructs, it is worth considering the wider cultural implication of ‘optimism’ as an emotional ‘imperative’. The optimist's so-called ‘sunny’ personal disposition is (or could be) an in-built emotional drive to believe in a brighter future, of bettering oneself and the environment. But isn't it precisely optimism that is destroying the chance of harmonious possibilities, because it naively overlooks certain implications of its own mechanisms?