Ljubljana related

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

14 Nov 2019, 10:44 AM

STA, 12 November 2019 - The designers of the Planica Nordic Centre in north-eastern Slovenia has received a gold medal for an architectural achievement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) among almost 100 competing projects.

The awards were announced at the 26th international IAKS congress in Cologne, Germany, last week, and presented officially on Tuesday by the Slovenian Ministry of Education, Science and Sport.

The Nordic skiing complex with one ski flying hill, seven ski jumping hills and a cross-country skiing track is one of the seven recipients of the gold medals among a total of 98 competing projects.

What speaks of the success of the Planica Nordic Centre is that the award for an architectural achievement in the past went to the likes of Beijing National Stadium, also called The Bird's Nest, and National Stadium in Singapore.

For instance, the latter cost EUR 1.2 billion build, while the cost of the Planica Nordic Centre was around EUR 48 million.

The project by three architectural firms (Stvar, Abiro and Akka) has been recognised by an international jury as a "modern complex created by expanding and modernising the existing facilities in the Triglav National Park."

According to the jury, it is noted for versatile and year-round use for elite sport and major international events, as well as tourism and recreation, and is marked by its clear, linear design in harmony with the landscape.

The jury has also been impressed by the "magnificent integration of the facility into the landscape" and the use of an underground tunnel for cross-country skiing in the summer.

Matej Blenkuš of Abiro said at today's event that while there were financial constraints, the architects were happy to "build in one of the most beautiful environments in Slovenia."

Such an environment puts overly ambitious architects on realistic grounds, as it sends a message that no one should date to change such an environment," he added.

Aleš Vodopivec of Stvar said that the project was an "unbelievable challenge, but the award proves that we have been successful".

Apart from hosting the Ski Jumping World Cup finale every year, the Planica Nordic Centre will host the Nordic World Ski Championships in 2023, at which tens of thousands of fans are expected to show up.

All our stories on Planica are here

06 Nov 2019, 17:07 PM

STA, 6 November 2019 - The 30th furniture and interior design fair Ambient Ljubljana and the home construction fair Dom Plus got under way at Ljubljana's Gospodarsko Razstavišče fairgrounds in Ljubljana on Wednesday. The fairs will feature 222 exhibitors from 21 countries until Sunday.

Lifting the curtain on Ambient Ljubljana, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said Slovenia had many excellent designers, "but we are not always capable of joining forces so as to market these products appropriately".

He added Slovenia had already missed opportunities to sell such products for serious money in the past, but he argued a new chance had come now.

The opening ceremony was also addressed by Gospodarsko Razstavišče director Iztok Bricl, who portrayed what used to be called the Ljubljana Furniture Fair as a phenomenon that had weathered all the drastic political and economic changes in the country, including the extinction of the wood-preprocessing and furniture industries in the country.

A number of side events are to be organised at the fairgrounds during the two fairs and scores of awards will be conferred, including for top products and ideas and for up-and-coming designers and architects.

The fair's website can be found here

23 Oct 2019, 11:31 AM

There’s at least one building outside the very centre of Ljubljana that functions as a landmark from far, as one of the city’s most distinctive structures, as well as one of the tallest – not that there’s much competition in that regard. That’s the triangular building with all the terraces and colours that echoes the mountains you can see behind it on a clear day.

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© Genius Loci d.o.o.

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© Genius Loci d.o.o.

The building is called R5 and was completed in 2010. It’s got 16 floors above ground for a height of just under 59 metres, roughly the same as TR2 (60 m) and smaller than TR3 (69 m) in Republic Square.  The lead architect was Andrej Černigoj, working in collaboration with Katarina Živanović Kavčič, Bojan Mrežar, Nika Kremžar, and Cveto Kunešević, with the client being SCT Stanovanjski Inženiring D.O.O. The architectural firm was Genius Loci, who kindly provided all the pictures for this story.

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© Genius Loci d.o.o.

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© Genius Loci d.o.o.

The overall structure is three residential and business buildings on the north side of Ljubljana Railway Station. The south side of the tallest building, with 100 housing units, gets smaller as it rises, giving the distinctive terraces and shape. It has a width of 17 metres, and while at the bottom the length is 65 meters, by the top floor this is only 7. The two smaller buildings have seven and three floors above ground, and - as seen in the pictures above and below - you can drive through the complex itself, which crosses Hacquetova ulica. 

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© Genius Loci d.o.o.

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 © Genius Loci d.o.o.

According to one website the whole thing cost around €23 million to build. Information on how much apartments in the building go for isn’t easy to find, but in May 2013 you could get a duplex with two bedrooms, 129 m2 of space, parking and a terrace for €219,781. This represented a reduction of up to 62% on the original price, although note that “up to 62%” refers to 14 different properties within the building and perhaps not this specific unit (details here). By September 2013 a three-bedroom, 104 m2 apartment with a terrace was being sold for €300,000. More recently, in October 2018, and after a few hot years for real estate in Ljubljana, a four-bedroom duplex at the top of the tower was on the market for €680,000.

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“In the part of the building without terraces are typical small urban dwellings in the 7.5x7.5m structural module, with installation connections along the inner wall that allow completely free arrangement of walls and furniture.” © Genius Loci d.o.o.

Related: Let’s See the City - Ljubljana: Architectural Walks & Tours

You can get close to R5 at Hacquetova ulica 2, or enjoy the view from many places downtown.

Related: Meet the People - Walking With Robert Potokar, Architect

15 Oct 2019, 16:31 PM

Jože Plečnik was the architect responsible for many of Ljubljana’s most iconic and well-known features, like Triple Bridge and the Market Arcades, or Križanke and Shoemaker’s Bridge. But despite the grand projects that Plečnik was able to complete, in Slovenia and abroad, there were other plans that remained even grander, and unrealised.

Starting on 18 October and running until 26 January, 2020, visitors to the Plečnik House (Karunova 4–6, Ljubljana 1000) will have a further delight to go with the many they’ll find when touring the great man’s home, designed to his own demanding specifications and full of characteristic touches. In these months the museum is hosting an exhibition titled Plečnik’s Unrealised Projects for Ljubljana, which will show how the city would have looked if the architect had been able to build four of his major works: New Town Hall, Butchers’ Bridge (on the site where the one with "lovers locks" now crosses the river), a monumental octagon with a tower on the Castle Hill and the Cathedral of Freedom in Tivoli Park.

While sketches of these works have long existed, the displays for this show utilised 3D modelling, visualisation and 3D printing, bringing them to life in the context of the city today, as seen in the following images.

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New Town Hall: Nejc Bernik, ZRC-SAZU

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New Town Hall: Nejc Bernik, ZRC-SAZU

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Plan for New Town Hall. Source: MGML

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Butcher's Bridge: Nejc Bernik, ZRC-SAZU

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Butcher's Bridge: Nejc Bernik, ZRC-SAZU

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Plan for Butcher's Bridge. Source. MGLM

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An addition to Ljubljana Castle. Nejc Bernik, ZRC-SAZU

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Plan for an addition to Ljubljana Castle. Source: MGML

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 Plan for an addition to Ljubljana Castle. Source: MGML

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The Cathedral of Freedom, Tivoli Park. Source: Nejc Barnik, ZRC-SAZU

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The Cathedral of Freedom, Tivoli Park. Source: Nejc Barnik, ZRC-SAZU

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Plan for the Cathedral of Freedom. Source: MGML. If you have a 10-cent coin you might be able to see this on one side - one of Slovenia's contributions to the visual image of the euro...

The exhibition is free to enter with a ticket to the Plečnik House, which also includes a very informative guided tour of the building, as written up here. Tickets are €6 for adults, €4 for the over 60s, students, and children. The place is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 18:00, and closed on Monday. More details here.

21 Jul 2019, 12:39 PM

Where did you live before Slovenia, and what brought you here?

Before Slovenia, my husband and I were living in London. Despite both of us working in the city, we always had a hand in property development. In 2004, when many countries joined the EU, we started looking at our options to invest aboard. We stumbled across Slovenia on a map and were mesmerized by its locations. We knew straight away this would be a great place to have a vacation home as its proximity to all the other countries and small size made getting away relatively easy. This was going to be our base camp for many adventures. Little did we know at the time that we would call this place home for the next 12 years.

A television interview with Jade van Baaren

How did you start looking for work here, and what was that experience like?

I think I came here with an idea of what I would do, but this quickly changed. I think that you have to be willing to be flexible and find what the country lacks and what you can offer. I have noticed with a few people that I know that they also came here with big ideas of what would work, but soon found out that they had to do a bit if soul searching and work hard to make a go of it here.

What’s your business, and how long have you been running it?

I am a renovation project manager and also run JVB Designworks. A company that consists of architects and design consultants. We run projects from start to finish for our clients, offering full renovations and design with a turnkey finish.

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What was your experience of starting a business here?

Like any new business it was a lot of hard work with a strong learning curve. I had to get the right people in the right place for it all to run smoothly. Now, after many years, we are reaching this point. However, in the construction and design business you will always encounter challenges, but that’s what I love about the job.

What kind of problems can you help people solve?

After many years in the business I have a lot of knowledge, not just of construction and design issues, but also in finding out who the client is and what they are really looking to get out of the project. Most of my projects are for the rental market, so I also have to know what the market is wanting, expecting and needs. Many of our projects are in idyllic but remote spots in Slovenia. These can be the most breathtaking places to relax and enjoy nature in all its grandeur, but can also be the most challenging spots for construction, electrical works, plumbing and water.

So most of my projects come with challenges, but for me it’s like an unsolved puzzle. There is always a solution, the trick is to approach problems from many different angles.

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How are you qualified to solve these problems?

It takes a big team to solve all these problems, and I can say that I have throughout the years found the best people in their fields to help us solve various issues. I’ve been working in Slovenia on renovations for 12 years now, starting with our own place when we first moved here. I have architects, engineers and construction specialist, all part of the JVB Designworks team who play a role in the problem-solving process. However, I think my own many years working and living in so many different countries have given me the ability to see things from many different angles, and I would say that problem solving is one of my biggest strengths.

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How has the business changed over the years, and what are your plans for the future?

Well it’s grown, that would be the biggest change so far. More clients investing in Slovenia are now interested in restoring older properties, which is my specialty.

With regard to the future, I have lots of ideas in the pipeline that are not ready to be shown yet, but I’m always just looking to run things more efficiently, keeping up with the latest eco-technology so these places can run better and be more affordable. And always getting to know the rental market better.

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Where can people find out more about your work?

My Facebook page has all my latest and greatest projects. I like to often show off these magical places I get to work in and the fun side of renovations. We love before and after pictures, as the transformations is huge. It’s hard to keep this up on my website, so Facebook is the best place to view all current projects.

What was your experience of culture shock in Slovenia?

It was very hard at first to live here. I found that the people where naturally suspicious of our intentions. Slovenian’s are very family oriented, and as an outsider it is very hard to break into social circles. Coming from a vibrant city like London, where we had a big social scene with lots going on, and then moving here where we had little interaction with anyone – I think that was the biggest shock for me, and something I didn’t think about when moving here. I have moved many times in my life, more than most, and never came across such a closed culture.

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What are some things from Slovenia that you think your home country could benefit from?

I think Slovenians approach to conservation and environmental issues is something that a lot of countries could befit from. It is true that Slovenia is a small place, and this can be a benefit when implementing environmental measures. They love the outdoors and have great respect for nature.

And what are some thing from your home country that you think Slovenia could benefit from?

I would like to see the Slovenians have a bit more of an open mind and be more trusting, as I think this is just a better way to live.

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Have you learned Slovene?

This is a touchy subject. I have been trying to learn Slovenia for years. I have taken courses, but to be honest starting and running my business and having a family have taken priority. If it came easy that would be another story, but It does not, and I would have to spend a lot of time to perfect it. I can get by but it’s very basic.

What things frustrate you about life in Slovenia?

I kind of love to call it SLOWvenia. In contrast to places like NYC and London, were life runs at a very fast pace and its expected to have immediate results, things just move at a different pace here, a slower pace. That used to frustrate me, but after 12 years I have adapted to this way of life, almost.

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What things delight you?

The quality of life for my children. I know they are in the best place in the world for growing up, growing up, learning values and most of all they are in a safe environment

Do you think you’ll stay in Slovenia for the rest of your life?

Well I would never say that about any place due to my history. But so far I’ve lived longer in Slovenia than anywhere else.

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Would you advise a friend to move to Slovenia?

Not if you’re young, when you should go out and be pushed around by the big players, get experience, be challenged, work hard. Then come here and raise a family. Be a big fish in a small pond.

What do you wish someone had told you before you moved here?

Nothing, or else I don’t think I would have come if I’d known how difficult it was going to be. Many times, we almost packed it in. I would say the first six years I was very close to jumping on a plane and getting out of here. But now I am doing what I love, and my family is happy and healthy.

As well as the links throughout this story, you can see more of Jade and her team’s work at JVB Designwork’s website.

28 Jun 2019, 14:08 PM

STA, 27 June 2019 - An exhibition on famous Slovenian architect and designer Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) and his designs of sacred objects opened in the Vatican Museums on Thursday evening, featuring 33 selected liturgical vessels as well as video presentations of his sacred architectural works.

 

Related: Playful and Austere - A Visit to Plečnik's House in Ljubljana

The opening was attended and addressed by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Culture Minister Zoran Poznič.

Šarec said at a reception for Slovenian Statehood Day, which followed the opening of the exhibition, that Slovenia should be proud and happy as this was the first Slovenian exhibition in the Vatican.

"Jože Plečnik is the greatest son of Slovenian architecture. He was a deeply religious man, which is perhaps less known, and it is not a coincidence that he created objects which we admire today."

Minister Poznič said that it was one of the largest events in culture this year. "The exhibition tells us how our artist, master Plečnik, associated the spiritual and material works in his work," he was quoted by the Culture Ministry.

Labelling Plečnik as one of the greatest men in Slovenian cultural history, the minister said that the "exhibition is an exceptional opportunity, serving as a booster of what sometimes we as a society lack - self-confidence."

Barbara Jatta, the director of the Vatican Museums, is happy that Pinacoteca Vaticana is hosting an "important exhibition of sacral objects by Jože Plečnik, a great architect and designer of the 20th century".

"Plečnik created an original and innovative style, which shows both in his church architecture and in the field of liturgical vessels," Jatta was quoted by the Ljubljana Museum and Galleries (MGML).

According to Peter Krečič, an expert on Plečnik's life and work who arranged the exhibition in cooperation with the Plečnik House curator Ana Porok, Europe and the world truly discovered the greatness of the architect's opus after his work was presented at the Paris Pompidou Centre in 1986.

Primarily famous for being an architect and urbanist, he was also a great designer, with his work being mostly showcased in three European capitals - Vienna, Prague and Ljubljana.

He established himself at the beginning of the 20th century by designing the famous Zacherl Palace in Vienna, then moved on to renovating the Prague Castle and its vicinity, transforming them into the symbol and political centre of a modern democratic state.

Plečnik also turned his hometown Ljubljana into a modern capital, having designed iconic buildings and spaces there.

Encouraged by his brother, who was a priest, he started designing liturgical vessels in 1913, including chalices, ciboria and monstrances, thus revolutionising traditional concepts of such design by introducing modern, clear lines and simple decoration featuring gemstones.

Designing the vessels, Plečnik drew inspiration from the art of sculpture, which makes those designs stand out and provides that transcendent aesthetic value which is essential to experience the sacred, according to Krečič.

The exhibition, entitled Plečnik and the Sacred, has been put on by the MGML in cooperation with the Slovenian Embassy to the Holy See, the Culture Ministry, the Ljubljana Archdiocese and Vatican Museums.

According to the MGML, Plečnik is the first Slovenian artist whose work will be showcased at the Vatican Museums. The exhibition will run until 7 September.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis received sculptor and painter Miko Simčič, the author of a one-tonne bust of the pope, made of Carrara marble, and standing on a pedestal made of two-colour Hotavlje marble.

Simčič said he had made the bust with the pope's approval, which he sees as a great honour, as Pope Francis had so far been rejecting the idea. The bust will be housed in the Vatican, and the artist wants to make more of them and give them to various cathedrals around the world.

You can learn more about the exhibition here

14 Jun 2019, 09:53 AM

This week we take a break from the colours of late spring and early summer and go back to the work of Igor Andjelić, of Ljubljana’s Gallery Minimal. A striking figure who takes striking photos, he’s been part of the city’s art scene for decades – including as part of IRWIN and NSK, as well designing, among other spaces, ŠKUC and Klub K4 – and has works in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). He's also, in our opinion, one of the best photographers of the city, finding beauty in lines and details that others overlook, with these two images showing Edvard Ravnikar's TR3 in Ljubljana's Republic Square (as detailed here).

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While Andjelić shows at various galleries, with a new show opening at Ljubljana's SKUČ Gallery 20 June 2019, the best place to keep up with his work with minimal effort is Facebook, where you’ll find nice surprises, in black and white, on a regular basis.

Related: Perfection is Achieved with Igor Andjelič

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