Text description provided by the architects. A dredger-ship moored in Zapyškis (Kaunas district, Lithuania) can no longer be used for its intended purpose due to outdated technology that is harmful to the river ecosystem. The team’s goal here was to use it as an exhibit and at the same time create a space with a new function. Thus, the culture ship ‘Nemuno 7’ was born. It houses an interdisciplinary arts center that offers exhibitions, a park on the water, artists’ residences, and other cultural activities. The deck of the ship is planted with various types of pioneer plants. Their integration was one of the key elements of the ship’s transformation.
‘Nemuno 7’ is a unique river engineering and landscape architectural project on water. It encodes local technical history, heritage, culture, contemporary art, and architecture. On the deck of the ship, there is a permanent exhibition ‘Tarpti’ (which translates as ‘To thrive and to flourish’) - nine art objects on the topic of water. Here, the architectural façade is constantly changing, making sounds, smelling of clay, surprising with artistic installations, swaying on the water, and telling the visitors many different plant stories. The dredger-ship seems to invite us to dig up, rediscover and look into the unknown micro and macro worlds of the ship and the water of the Nemunas.
This project is an example of how old and rusty mechanisms can be resurrected for a new function. They do not need to be special to be in harmony with their environment, because they themselves create harmony as objects.
One of the spaces of the tween deck is an education space - a room dedicated to mini-workshops and information about water. In another space, an artist’s residence has been designed, by transforming this area into a more comfortable, liveable space for sleeping, working, eating, and creating. The toilet and shower room on the ship are kept authentic by dismounting plastic panels that appeared later and exposing the metal surfaces.
The rooms have become more spacious, cleaner, and more comfortable. The newly designed area includes an exhibition space on the superstructure and a mini-kitchen for the artist in residence underneath. The colors and aesthetics of the old dredger spaces have remained authentic, while the new spaces are dominated by a monochromatic minimalist style. The main design accents are the dredger itself, the plants, and the display of artwork.
The location of the object is Lithuania’s largest river, but the ship is moored in the Kaunas district, more specifically in Zapyškis, and not in the city center. Visitors are invited to look back at the river, to come here from the city by bicycle, and to extend the map of cultural experiences from the city to the district.
This object is an event. It is a scenography, a theatrical performance, and a cultural and creative phenomenon. The platform on which the action unfolds is a local industrial machine - a dredger that dredged the Nemunas River. The ship is original in its functional design, which in this object is turned into a museum exhibit, and its digging buckets - into plant pots. The new superstructure is container-type in its design and enjoys an original broken geometry. This beast of a ship awakens the imagination, raises questions, and invites you to stop, come by, wonder and experience.