My Vilnius is a series of interviews introducing you to people who call Vilnius their home. It’s all about the ordinary lives of extraordinary people and vice versa. From modeling houses in school to leading one of the top architecture firms in town, the managing partner and co-founder of 2L Architects Paulius Latakas shares his story.
VP: Tell us a bit about yourself—what’s your background?
Paulius: I was born in Gargždai, and in 2nd grade, my family and I moved to Klaipėda. I studied there and graduated from the Vytauto Didižiojo gymnasium. Until the age of 16, I played outdoor tennis professionally. Only very late, in the 12th grade, I decided to enroll in architecture studies at the current Vilnius Tech. I always knew that I wanted to have my own business, and the architecture profession turned out to be a very suitable choice.
VP: How did you get into architecture?
Paulius: The story about the choice of architecture is really interesting. In the 12th grade, during art class, we were given a homework assignment to create a model of a building. I was hooked instantly. I already liked to model things from various materials: airplanes, cars, and buildings. But after this homework assignment, I finally decided to study architecture and start preparing for it. There was very little time left, and entrance exams were required for admission.
I always thought that after studying for some time, I would find the right partners, and one day our own architecture company would be born. And so it happened. We founded the public institution “Jauna architektūra” with four like-minded people in our first year of studies. Here it’s worth expanding a little — for us, it was simply a “wild” period of university time because we were simultaneously working with Jauna architektūra” and studying.
We were located at the premises of the Fluxus Ministry on Gediminas Avenue. Various social and commercial projects, first orders, etc., took place there. And already after my master’s studies, together with my friend Julius Lapinskas, we founded the current company: “2L Architects & Engineers”.
VP: Do you have a daily routine? If yes, what’s it like?
Paulius: For me, it’s become almost a holy tradition to start the week with tennis practice at 7 am. After such a good discharge, Monday becomes very calm and less stressful. On other days, I like to start with a morning coffee and a croissant at “Taste Map” on Čiurlionis St., right next to my home.
The days are quite intense, with a lot of different things and meetings. I try to get home from work around five o’clock so I can take my love Preila for a walk. This is a Hungarian Vizsla, which needs a lot of exercise. We are also thinking intensively about a second puppy.
VP: Can you tell us about 2L Architects, from how it was born to what you do today?
Paulius: After the master’s studies, together with Julius Lapinskas, we founded “2L architektus”, which today we call “2L Architects & Engineers”. I still remember how we chose the first hired employee, the constructor Ramūnas Giedrys. He still works for our company! It is interesting that the fact that we chose him was also determined by his red diploma with honors. It seems like maybe it shouldn’t be of great importance, but even now, we ask what grades someone graduated with.
Over the course of a decade, 2L Architects & Engineers has become well-known as one of the largest architecture companies in Lithuania. The company employs 25 specialists, and we work on large industrial and public facilities. Our clients include companies such as Teltonika, PON bikes, Hesburger, and others. In almost 5 years, we have designed 7 new schools, some of which have already been realized. We are currently working with Ukrainian partners on a school project in Bucha. We want to contribute to a faster reconstruction of Ukraine with our project; this is our gift to this country.
VP: What are some of your favourite buildings in Vilnius?
Paulius: From contemporary architecture, I really like the work of Audrias Ambras. He was also my thesis supervisor. He designed the “Swedbank” headquarters on Konstitucijos Avenue or the “Baltic Hearts” projects, which seamlessly fit into the context.
I also really like the renovated National Art Gallery by Audrias Bučas, Gintaras Kuginis, and Darius Čaplinskas. I like to go there often. I could also mention the “Pirklių klubas“ and the author of this exceptional renovation, Alfredas Trimonis.
VP: Where do you go for a morning coffee, after-work drink, and Sunday brunch?
Paulius: For morning coffee, I go to Taste Map. After work, I go to Oyshi and other local cafes or bars. I like to work from Backstage Cafe on Vokiečių street. Of course, most of all, I like to escape to the village of Karmazinai, where my wife Aurelija and I have established a farm. Wonderful place! We plan to grow hazelnuts, honey, and mushrooms there.
In my opinion, a person should have three careers during his life. During the first one, you experience and learn a lot; the business is successful, and you can continue to grow. The second one starts in Karmazinai. But only time will tell where the third will be.
VP: For someone who hasn’t been to Vilnius yet, how would you describe it?
Paulius: Vilnius is full of contrasts. You can see the contemporary skyscrapers right next to old single-family residential houses, dense neighborhoods right next to parks… And it is a good thing, somehow, all these differences create the Vilnius atmosphere. Everyone has their own place in Vilnius, while also everyone has some space and air to breathe.
VP: Where can we find you in the digital sphere?