Barn 2 b: the unwanted ghost – is

This writing is about a large vernacular barn, located in the highlands of northeast Lithuania (Aukštaitija). The barn is somewhat ordinary depending with whom you speak to. It had been part of a family homestead for several generations, though during post-war Soviet collectivization it was concluded that though it was in fact very usable as storage, it wasn’t relevant to draw it into the land titles, marking it only with a yellow paint streak on its south façade, now faded.  Its age is difficult to date. It is a typology of barn used primarily to store hay. This type (kluonas) is designed to be light tight, with gaps between the stone foundations left to aerate the hay, so light penetrates the interior for the most part when the doors are ajar. This barn once had 2 entrances, front and back, though the back had long been boarded up, though an early door still hung, with straps for hinges and the pin an extension of the timber door frame. It had though a stature and was embedded in the rolling landscape with surrounding views playing tag with surrounding shadowy topology. These qualities elevated the building and its adjacent site to a silent and wise element in the landscape. It is infra-ordinary as it does not really exist, hence the early naming of this project; the Ghost of Barn 2 b.

There are several such barns remaining left standing in the countryside, a regional distinctiveness of a few kilometers can change a detail or method of a technique as craftsman’s signatures could be identified. The everyday was though beginning to test the lifespan of this barn and others as many are on land no longer used for agricultural processes. This barn was beginning to show signs of this decomposition.

This writing sets out to contextualize the Barn 2 b in its local environment as well as in context to the adjacent LT Ranch Project Space processes, cohabiting in Stučių hamlet. This area of Lithuania is part of the deeply forested region, sharing the mythologies, geologic and social activities of the rural landscape and woodlands of the other two Baltic States, Estonia and Latvia, expanded in Simon Schama’s ‘Landscape and Memory’ Chapter 1: In the realm of the Lithuanian Bison (Vintage Books, New York 1996.


The Barn 2 b


Since arriving to Stučių[1] hamlet in 2005, we had admired this barn in its proud location, views afforded from the road, lifted on an elevated mound, a large structure in a wide and gentle field. By 2011, the north portion of the roof had caved in and the incremental props and straps that had repaired and kept the structure sound seemed to reach its philosophical end, of what for? The existence of this barn, came into question. Its maintenance would cost money and time, and as it was beginning to show signs of fatigue, the notion to sell it and move it or burn it began to spread in the hamlet.

As we surveyed the Barn 2 b, we discovered telltale signs that this structure had in fact been moved and adjusted in size and function as would be the norm for rural areas. Family sizes changed over time, the need for various structures and farm buildings changed. The community would dis-mantle, move and reconstruct the structure required elsewhere by others storing leftover timbers, or borrowing from other stores as required- an economically sustainable solution. Land use reforms also had a large part to play. The last being enforced prior to the start of the 20th c. with homesteads working off in strips from one central street.[2]

The present dispersal of homesteads and buildings may date from the mid 16c. some redistribution occurring in the mid 20thc. Without further research, the present arrangement may even be the singularities of remote hamlet identities, which varied regardless of reforms. We allowed ourselves some room in this area, listening, documenting as best we could and passing on these stories, though the traces of yellow paint streaked on the exterior of the barn did allude to silent stories of this barn’s history that would and will continue to emerge. As these initial stories began to vocalize, we again began to ponder whether we should engage with the ‘barn project’. ScanLAB co-founder Matthew Shaw was then teaching at UCA Canterbury School of Architecture and as discussions and enquiries as to the well-being of this barn evolved so did the possibility of 3dLIDAR scanning it. It took some time to engage with this collaboration, as everything until that moment taking place at the LT Ranch[3] had been incremental, seasonal, and small scale, much depending on funds, personal finance and working with locally available materials. We continued the dialogue regardless, to engage with the idea of scanning this barn during train rides to and from Canterbury School of Architecture.  By the time ScanLAB returned from the first Arctic scanning trip with Greenpeace, the idea was gaining momentum in our minds, though funding it was still perplexing. The LT Ranch Summer Sessions was beginning to be an re-occurring event with various medium to small scale projects appearing in its landscape next door, the scale of the Barn 2 b was a large scale project and still frightening, due to the inability to see from dwindling local population numbers who would be available to help dis-mantle and re-assemble the beast, Paradoxically, we had discovered the land titles didn’t exist. Images were sent to the Outdoor Museum in Rumšiškes, which has dis-mantled and stored endangered buildings from this postwar period as an extensive collection of traditional farmsteads and urban typologies of local importance and identity. They confirmed that, yes this was a good, clear type of barn for its region well worth preserving- if there was interest in it.

 This information of non-existence of land titles alongside the 3d LIDAR point-cloud discussions would begin the merging of the scanning technology with the movement processes deriving a conceptual working title ‘the Ghost of Barn 2 b’. [4] The collaboration now felt intact. We began to search for funding and financing this- the surveying and archiving of the Barn 2 b.


[1] The hamlet, Stučiai, has a small community of about 10 year round residents, some ‘weekenders’, some even more temporal residents like myself. The hamlet was not specifically known for vernacular triumphs of craftsmanship, though care and resilience of the everyday are evidenced through domestic and landscape maintenance. Through this process of the Barn 2 b we were able to recognize further cultural elements as significant to the cultural heritage of this highland hamlet.

[2] R.Bertašiūtė, V.Vasiliauskaitė, G.Žumbakiene, R.Bortkūnas, N.Norvaišaitė, Rytų Aukštaitijos Tradicinė kaimo architektūra (2009) Vilnius. Pg 6

[3] LT Ranch Project Space,



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