Ljubljana related

13 Jan 2022, 12:51 PM

STA, 12 January 2022 - The municipality of Ljubljana has announced a public call for the reconstruction of the Plečnik Auditorium, the former open-air amphitheatre in a clearing behind Tivoli Mansion in Ljubljana's Tivoli Park. It was designed by architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) and constructed in 1933, but left to decay after the Second World War.

In Plečnik's design, a wooden grandstand was placed to the west of the clearing behind Tivoli Mansion, where the terrain naturally rises, while a gravel stage overlooked Ljubljana. Above the wooden stands stood a fountain, which was later moved to a different location, next to the Ljubljanica River.

After the Second World War, the amphitheatre was left to decay. Until the mid-1960s, the area was used to host an open-air summer cinema, which was subsequently abandoned and the site was overgrown. The clearing is now surrounded by tall trees and is a protected plant habitat.

However, when the Švicarija arts centre in Tivoli was renovated a few years ago, the idea of reviving the amphitheatre was born as well. According to the plans drawn up by the architectural firm Medprostor, the wooden grandstand will be rebuilt on a steel structure, to its former extent and in its former location, with the trees and vegetation adjacent to the clearing to be fully preserved.

The stage of the reconstructed open-air theatre will be covered with grass, and the whole area will be linked with the Švicarija arts centre and Tivoli Mansion, the newspaper Dnevnik has reported.

"When planning the reconstruction, we felt it was important not to introduce new original elements, but simply to bring in modernity and also to be true to the original," said Rok Žnidaršič, the architectural project manager from Medprostor.

According to Dnevnik, Žnidaršič added that although the project followed the form and concept of Plečnik's design, it is not a "replica of the lost architectural spatial development, but rather an interpretation of it."

You can see the details of the public tender (in Slovene) here

28 Jul 2021, 14:53 PM

STA, 28 July 2021 - Ljubljana's landmarks designed by architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957), including the Triple Bridge, Congress Square and Žale Cemetery, have been included in UNESCO's World Heritage List in line with a decision adopted by the World Heritage Committee on Wednesday.

Slovenia submitted the bid in January 2020 after an earlier joint bid with the Czech Republic was abandoned. All of Plečnik's major works in Ljubljana are thus included in the world heritage list, except for the dilapidated Bežigrad Stadium.

The country's bid Ljubljana: The Timeless, Human Capital Designed by Jože Plečnik, covered the works that Slovenia's most acclaimed architect completed during both world wars.

The decision of the World Heritage Committee comes after the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) positively assessed Slovenia's bid on 4 June.

ICOMOS recognised Plečnik's works in Ljubljana as an exceptional example of urban space design in accordance with the architect's deeply human vision that transformed a former provincial town into a symbolic national capital.

According to ICOMOS, Plečnik's approach is based on the reformist architectural movements of the early 20th century that is currently under-represented in the World Heritage List.

Špela Spanžel from the Ministry of Culture, who headed the task force preparing the nomination, said that the process that had led to this recognition had gradually started ten years ago, initially as a reflection on the value of Plečnik's heritage.

"We believe that Plečnik's Ljubljana illustrates in an exemplary way an approach to heritage that honours the achievements of the past and conceives the future tailored to the people, which means it very much reflects modern notions such as quality architecture and built environment, management, sustainability, beauty and a sense of space," Spanžel said.

Slovenia's bid was prepared by a group of experts in protection, preservation and management of cultural heritage in cooperation with the owners and managers of Plečnik's landmarks. The process was led by the Ministry of Culture and coordinated by the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO).

Slovenia already has four entries in the World Heritage List - heritage of mercury in Idrija, prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, and ancient and primeval beech forests, and the Škocjan Caves.

21 May 2021, 17:57 PM

STA, 21 May 2021 - The Slovenian pavilion was launched online at the 17th architectural exhibition La Biennale di Venezia on Friday. The Slovenian project focuses on the Yugoslav-era community centres as a type of social infrastructure, highlighting the role of architecture in building a sense of community.

Slovenia's contribution to the international show is entitled The Common in the Community: Seventy Years of Community Centres as Social Infrastructure. A virtual stroll through the pavilion reveals a study on a post-WWII vision of building community centres in Slovenia, cultural, business and educational hubs.

Right after the Second World War, the goal was to set up 523 such centres in rural areas across the country amid post-war reconstruction and modernisation efforts. More than 330 were indeed built.

The heritage and societal role of this phenomenon remain relevant today as well, said the pavilion's architects Blaž Babnik Romaniuk and Rastko Pečar, who created the Slovenian exhibition along with curators Martina Malešič and Asta Vrečko.

Their project also addresses current challenges such as the increasing gap between urban and rural areas, exploring how to construct spaces that would boost a sense of community. It is not merely a documentation of past events but a reflection on the centres' role then and now, according to Babnik Romaniuk.

The display focuses on four topics, integration, aspiration, unfolding and witnessing. A large table represents the first, bringing visitors together and creating a sense of community.

Models and graphic interventions displayed on the table stand in for the second topic, presenting the architectural aspect of the project. A light installation hanging above the table features 523 elements representing the target number for community centres, what the post-war project aspired to along with a societal change but never realised.

The third topic, unfolding, is invoked with the help of a door, a portal that provides information and opens up the project to a wider community. Witnessing is embodied in a short film by director Vid Hajnšek exploring the past, present and future of these communal spaces, the team behind the exhibition told the STA.

At the launch of the pavilion, they highlighted that the centres boasted a certain aesthetic. They were designed by acclaimed architects of that era, who put a lot of thought into the siting of the buildings.

It is interesting that after 70 years locals still use them, Malešič said.

The project was selected in an open call by the Museum of Architecture and Design as it best addressed the issue of living together as a community or even a planet, according to the head of the pavilion Matevž Čelik Vidmar.

He believes the centres have been a venue of cultural changes and could perhaps perform this role today as well when society faces new challenges.

The display is accompanied by an extensive publication, featuring seven texts and four visual chapters.

This year's La Biennale di Venezia, held under the slogan How Will We Live Together, will get under way on Saturday. The exhibition will put on display architects' visions of co-existence amid increasing political polarisation and socio-economic inequalities.

You can learn more at the official website

21 Apr 2021, 16:16 PM

STA, 21 April 2019 - The Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry rejected at the end of March the BŠP company's request for a building permit to overhaul a rundown Ljubljana stadium designed by acclaimed architect Jože Plečnik. BŠP boss Joc Pečečnik says he will not give up on the project he launched in 2007 and will press charges.

The Bežigrad Stadium is protected as cultural heritage of national importance. Its construction started in the early 1920s, but was completed only in the late 1930s.

To save it from ruin, Ljubljana joined forces in November 2007 with businessman Pečečnik and the Slovenian Olympic Committee (OKS) to turn it into a sport park.

Following years of slow progress and setbacks, the Culture Ministry said in February the plans do not entail renovation and conservation of all elements of the stadium.

It also found problematic constructing a new multi-storey building housing a hotel, a sports clinic and department stores in the proximity of the monument.

As a result, the ministry and the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage gave the plans a negative opinion, a basis for a decision on the building permit.

"We won't renounce the project in which we've put 14 years of effort, desires and money for the stadium to get finally renovated," Pečečnik told the press on Wednesday.

"To preserve its cultural heritage, we wanted to combine the old and the new in a symbiotic way as the only option to renovate Plečnik's stadium.

"The state gave up on this and many other cultural monuments a long time ago, leaving them to decay," he said at the news conference, held at the seat of BŠP.

Next week he intends to file criminal complaints and damages suits, and an appeal at the Administrative Court over the alleged interference in the building permit procedure.

He highlighted a suit against Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti and Jelka Pirkovič, acting head of the ministry's directorate for cultural heritage.

Shameful Condition of Plečnik's Stadium in Ljubljana: An Example of Poor Governance?

Both Pečečnik and OKS head Bogdan Gabrovec said that Prime Minister Janaz Janša had so far supported the BŠP project.

BŠP is owned by Pečečnik's company Elektronček (59%), the municipality of Ljubljana (28%), and the OKS (13%) as the owner of land.

Over EUR 12.4 million has already been invested in the project.

Both the OKS and Ljubljana remain BŠP's partners, with Gabrovec saying the OKS is hoping to get new premises for itself, various sport associations and a Slovenian Olympic Sport Centre.

17 Mar 2021, 12:31 PM

STA, 16 March 2021 - The Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage opposes a project to revamp a rundown sports stadium in Ljubljana that was designed by Slovenia's best known architect Jože Plečnik. The decision was made last month after the Culture Ministry annulled a previous positive opinion, Dnevnik reports on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning told the newspaper that the Bežigrad Sports Park project (BŠP) planned by entrepreneur Joc Pečečnik had received a negative opinion from both the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the Culture Ministry.

plecnik stadium wikipedia.jpg

The stadium in better days. Wikipedia

Related: Shameful Condition of Plečnik's Stadium in Ljubljana: An Example of Poor Governance?

The ministry would not comment on how this will affect the process of issuing a construction permit.

The company in charge of the project, BŠP, filed a request for a construction permit in December 2018 and supplemented it in May 2019. The Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage gave its second consent at the end of last January.

The project had already had the institute's consent but had to obtain it again after a demand was filed for an integral construction permit under new legislation, which was to speed up the project.


Photo: Alja Mravljak


Photo: Alja Mravljak

However, the Culture Ministry, acting as a supervisor of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, told the Environment Ministry last August that the BŠP project was not in line with a decree declaring Plečnik's works in Ljubljana national monuments.

The Environment Ministry replied it was obligated to take into account the institute's positive opinion unless the Culture Ministry annulled it.

Subsequently, the Culture Ministry reviewed the consent to find it "illegal". It annulled the institute's decision last September.

The ministry said that Pečečnik's plans did not envisage renovation and conservation of all elements of the Plečnik stadium and that construction in the area of the monument was problematic.

In November 2007, the city of Ljubljana joined forces with businessman Pečečnik and the Slovenian Olympic Committee to turn the dilapidated stadium, built in 1923, into a sports park.

They set up the company BŠP, planning a EUR 253m project which would renovate the stadium in line with Plečnik's plans. Also planned in stadium area was a new multi-storage building housing a hotel, a sports clinic and department stores.

However, the project has seen many setbacks since with its opponents demanding renovation of the stadium in its original form.

Last March, the pan-European Europa Nostra organisation put the stadium on a list of seven most endangered European cultural heritage sites.

08 Feb 2021, 12:12 PM

STA, 7 February 2021 - Marko Mušič, one of the most distinguished Slovenian architects, comes from a long line of architects. He will receive the Prešeren Prize for lifetime-achievement, the country's top accolade for artistic accomplishments, after leaving a notable mark with his work in Slovenia and throughout the former Yugoslavia.

Five of Mušič's ancestors were architects, including his father Marjan Mušič, which he sees as a privilege. He told the STA in an interview that he "simply worshipped" his father, who was a "refined art connoisseur, a profound architectural theorist and historian, an excellent project manager, a classic of the Slovenian architectural drawing and of course a prolific and extraordinary writer".

Mušič (1941) graduated in 1966 under the mentorship of professor Edvard Ravnikar, who just like Mušič's father was a student of the great architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957). He continued his studies in Denmark and the US, where he cooperated with architect and archaeologist Ejnar Dyggve and with US architect Louis Kahn, respectively.

Kahn left a deep impression on Mušič. "I was drawn to his philosophy of architecture and in particular his honouring of tradition and the culture of architectural history," he told the STA.

"The clarity of his architectural composition and the sense of symbolism have always stood out. He was unlike anybody else and his architectural designs were such as well. He designed few buildings, but they were all in line with his motto that you must give each building a soul."

Mušič considered staying in the US, where opportunities for architects were immense, but Kahn "convinced me to go to Skopje immediately and continue and finish my great and important work there," he said in a reference to his work in the Macedonian capital.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Mušič left his mark in former Yugoslavian cities from Zagreb through Belgrade to Skopje and Bitola. "That was a period of enthusiasm, faith in the architecture, youthful zeal, new opportunities and of course competitiveness," he told the STA, saying Slovenian architects had been particularly esteemed in the former Yugoslavia.

He said architecture had had full political support at the time. "Interestingly, I was never asked why I'm not a member of the League of Communists or persuaded that this was needed if I were to be the chief architect."

In the 1980s, he started focussing on Slovenia. This was a time when Postmodernism radically ended the period of Modernism and Jože Plečnik was "rehabilitated". Mušič was strongly affected by this and his architectural language started containing elements of classical architecture although using modern material and showing his own personal style.

He has a strong connection to Plečnik. "My relationship with Plečnik has in particular a creative charge. Every one of his works, designs or sketches spontaneously reveals creative saturation, which is an inexhaustible source of interest, admiration and also new creative encouragement."

Mušič's most important projects in Ljubljana are the Ljubljana railway station, the Incarnation Church in the Dravlje borough, and the New Žale Cemetery. He is also the author of the Teharje memorial park dedicated to the victims of post-war killings.

Three of his projects, including the New National and University Library, Apostolic Nunciature in Ljubljana, and the Ljubljana passenger terminal have not be realised, which he said "left a slightly bitter aftertaste".

He feels particularly close to memorial architecture, which he focussed on in the 1990s. "When designing such projects we must be aware of Wittgenstein's belief that the meaning of ethics and aesthetics is to reveal the inexpressible ... We must be aware that every part of this space has its symbolic and ritual function."

Mušič is lauded by the jury conferring the Prešeren Prize for his unique architectural path, his "particular, at times controversial perspective standing against the 'flow of the time' and architectural trends, and which still aspires to 'architecture for all times'", something Plečnik had set high standards for.

Active in architecture in Slovenia and the broader Balkan region for almost 60 years, Mušič has a special place in this space and has been considered a wunderkind, the Prešeren Prize jury said. He has received several awards, including the Prešeren Fund Prize for outstanding achievements, and the Plečnik and Valvasor awards.

The latest international recognition of his work was the inclusion of his works in the big exhibition of Yugoslavian architecture in MoMA in New York in 2018.

He is a full member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA) and a corresponding member of the academies of sciences and arts of Republika Srpska, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"All awards are pleasant companions, but the Prešeren Prize of course has a special significance and ring to it. On the one hand it is a recognition for past achievements, but it is also an encouragement for the future, as even those of us who have walked a long way already are optimistic about the future and new challenges," he said.

05 Dec 2020, 10:17 AM

STA, 3 December 2020 - Feri Lainšček, a writer and poet from Slovenia's north-easternmost region, and Marko Mušič, an architect who has made a name for himself in Slovenia and throughout the former Yugoslavia, are the winners of the Prešeren Prizes for lifetime-achievement for 2021. The country's top accolades for artistic accomplishments will be presented on 7 February.

Lainšček, 61, is being honoured for "literary achievements whose artistic value has been enriching the treasury of Slovenian culture for almost 40 years".

Lainšček, often referred to as the poet of the Prekmurje plains, has established himself as a novelist and poet as well as a short-story, youth and children's fiction writer, film screenwriter and author of song lyrics.

Mušič, 79, is lauded for his unique architectural path, his humanism, known for his "particular, at times controversial perspective standing against the 'flow of the time' and architectural trends and which still aspires to 'architecture for all times'".

Active in the field of architecture in Slovenia and the broader Balkans region for almost 60 years, Mušič has a special place in this space, the justification reads.

The winners of the two Prešeren Prizes and of the Prešeren Fund Prizes for accomplishments over the past three years were announced by the Culture Ministry on Thursday as Slovenia marks the 220th anniversary of birth of poet France Prešeren.

The anniversary of Prešeren's death on 8 February is celebrated as Culture Day with the Prešeren Prizes conferred at the main ceremony on the eve of that day.

The Prešeren Fund Prizes go to poet Brane Senegačnik, violinist Lana Trotovšek, theatre director Tomi Janežič, film director Matjaž Ivanišin, painter Sandi Červek and the architects Budja-Jereb-Majoranc.

The winners are picked by the management board of the Prešeren Fund with the help of expert commissions. The board is chaired by Jožef Muhovič, a painter, art theoretician and philosopher, with mezzosoprano Bernarda Fink Inzko as vice-chair.

23 Jun 2020, 12:47 PM

STA, 22 June 2020 - The 2020 Plečnik Prize for best architectural project in Slovenia was won by Matija Bevk, Vasa J. Perović and Christophe Riss for the Muslim religious and cultural centre in Ljubljana. The jury said the project was exceptional not only in the national but also in the European context.

The architects have proven how extremely important it is to have a comprehensive approach to a project, and consistently implement the concept both at the levels of the city and building, and individual architectural elements.

With the religious and cultural centre, Ljubljana has finally gotten another piece of top quality public architecture of sensible size after a few decades, the jury said.

The project by Bevk Perović Arhitekti is an example of how top architecture can be created with a determined approach based on winning an international architectural design competition.

It also shows that architectural design competitions are an excellent tool for making sure that the high standards in Ljubljana's architecture set by Jože Plečnik and visionary decision-makers continue.

The Plečnik medal for realisation went to Rok Žnidaršič and Žiga Ravnikar for the gym of the Vižmarje Brod Primary School, which the jury described as a "convincing and fresh solution exceeding ordinary standards in every aspect".

Tomaž Vuga received the Plečnik medal for important contribution to architectural theory for his book Projekt: Nova Gorica, intertwining his personal recollections of his home town with his professional work as one of the main urbanists of Nova Gorica. His research offers a unique insight into the construction and planning of Nova Gorica in the second half of the 20th century, the jury said.

Another medal went to Matevž Vidmar Čelik, the director of the Museum of Architecture and Design, for his contribution to architectural culture and for the promotion of the museum in the international architectural community.

As the museum head, Vidmar Čelik has set out a modern path for the institution over the last ten years. By participating in international projects and cooperating with international institutions, the museum has been promoting Slovenian architecture on a global level.

The Plečnik Prize, the highest recognition for achievements in architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism and interior design in Slovenia, has been conferred by the Jože Plečnik Fund, named after the famed architect Plečnik (1872-1957), since 1972.

14 Jan 2020, 12:58 PM

Maks Fabiani (1865 – 1962) was one of the main architects that introduced the Vienna Secession style of architecture in Slovenia.

The style, more commonly known as Art Nouveau, marked the modern image of Ljubljana, after the 1895 earthquake cleared some land in the city centre for the new style of buildings to be merged with the mostly baroque style of architecture that survived.

For more on Secessionist Ljubljana, click here, while for pictures of Ljubljana just after the earthquake, see here.

11 Dec 2019, 11:33 AM

STA, 10 December 2019 - A Ljubljana stadium designed by acclaimed architect Jože Plečnik in the 1920s has been shortlisted as one of the 14 pieces of European cultural heritage that could be put on a list of seven most endangered pieces.

The 7 Most Endangered pieces of European heritage will be declared in March 2020, the European Commission Representation in Slovenia said in a release on Tuesday.

The stadium was nominated for protection within a campaign of the pan-European Europa Nostra organisation and the European Investment Bank Institute by the Ljubljana Association of Architects.

The association would like to protect this masterpiece of Plečnik's, which has been been decaying for a decade, so that it could be used again in its original form.

Related: Shameful Condition of Plečnik's Stadium in Ljubljana: An Example of Poor Governance?

The landmark stadium began to be built in 1925 for a Catholic sports association as one of the first such facilities in Europe.

In 2003, Slovenian rock band Siddharta filled it with 30,000 fans for a memorable concert, while Depeche Mode played there in 2006.

One of the most notorious events associated with it is the oath the Slovenian pro-Nazi militia Domobranci swore to Adolf Hitler in 1944.

The Bežigrad stadium, as it is sometimes referred to, was used for sport events and concerts until 2007, while efforts to renovate it have turned into a saga.

At the time, entrepreneur Joc Pečečnik's GSA company entered a partnership with the city of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Olympic Committee to renovate it.

Their company BŠP closed the stadium in January 2008, while in 2009 the Berlin-based GMP studio was selected in a public tender to renovate it.

But since then, a combination of problems surrounding the environmental permit, locals complaining about a piece of land between the stadium and their blocks of flats, and a civil initiative insisting the stadium be preserved in its original form has pushed the project into a limbo.

The 7 Most Endangered programme was launched in January 2013 as a civil society campaign to protect European heritage, although it brings no direct funding.

It identifies the most threatened monuments, sites and landscapes in Europe and mobilises public and private partners to find viable solutions.

All our stories on Plečnik are here, while those on architecture are here

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