SLO } { excursion: The far horizon is so close

The far horizon is so close, in fact only a stone’s throw away or two hours by bus: If this notion fits together and succeeds in meshing metaphorically, then it is an entirely apt description for the start of the SLOwenien project of the Styrian branch of the Austrian Architects’ Association (ZV) and the arrival of the architectural field trip in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana (April, 21th to 22th, 2007). It was a magnificent day with a sky of dazzling blue when, 34 architects set out to view the SLO Project:

1. A student hall of residence at Potočnikova 52, Ljubljana by (Matija) Bevk – (Vasa J.) Perovič possessed of considerable esprit, generously dimensioned dwelling apartments together with those so characteristically redolent knobbly synthetic floors in flagrant colours. The hall of residence is on a busy street, but it is well separated from it by a pleasant park and trees. The generous lounge or foyer is invitingly furnished; the architects have used a great deal of imagination for the fittings in the public areas; it all has the air of a prestige project. The 56 apartments are sober by contrast, balconies with individually worked perforated aluminium sheeting serving as lattice-blinds – with the facade gaining additional space as a result. Exceptional

2. The Mathematics Faculty in the Jadranska 19 is also located here in the very same spot where we paced the route of the synthetic flooring. The faculty is grafted in two storeys onto a three storey private building for reasons rooted in history; the facade with its strip pattern printed glazing that can to some extent be opened, counteracts this hybrid effect. Unprinted glass is used to mark out the open common areas, above all at the heads of the stairs on each level. The large lecture theatre is fitted with horizontally moveable seats of a type never seen before. An entire novelty for the people from Graz. An innovation that immediately banishes the dismal sensation of growing into one’s seat during lectures, at least to the extent that anyone can bear to remain in them at all on what are so frequently poor benches or seats with poor light and air. The entrance area is unexpectedly small as a result of the ownership situation – private downstairs and public up above. The building as a whole is a reflection of the Physics Faculty in its form.

The third, fourth and fifth calls were an equal number of social housing projects, for example the felicitous “Poljane” project in the Poljanska cesta by Špela Videčnik and Rok Oman from OFIS arhitekti, with 650 apartments, completed in less than eighteen months, representing one apartment per day. Then on to one that was especially inexpensive, the “Polje” project on the outskirts of Ljubljana in Polje 371-376, consisting of six structures with a total of 78 apartments and a generously dimensioned park between them. Each building has two entrances, a main entrance and a back entrance for bicycles and other bulky items. The City of Ljubljana allocates these apartments to underprivileged people and the site is appropriately located behind the goods railway station, but this does nothing to hinder the gifts of the architect Bevk-Perovič, on the contrary these become even clearer under these circumstances: a kind of village square has been achieved in which the residents, many of them in wheelchairs, enjoy gathering, a fact about which we were able to assure ourselves on this delightful spring day.

In Sežana on the way to Koper we visited another social housing project by Dekleva Gregorič arhitekti across the way from a Spar supermarket in the Cesta na Lenivec 6, consisting of three structures with a little landscaping round and about. The buildings strive upwards, red and modern, but seem to bear witness to successive cut-backs having been made here.

Still in Ljubljana we stroll from the centre to Krakovo, a now heritage-protected and for this very reason idyllic village, where Dekleva Gregorič arhitekti have cleverly converted a barn or a storage building into a weekend house with light wells, the so-called XXS House situated in the Kladezna ulica. The house is for a couple who live the week through in the country. A perfect house that one is happy to compare in terms of quality and simplicity with the Blejec House in Pot v smrečje 28A, between a detached housing estate and the edge of a forest. The architects Bevk in Perovič have turned the ground floor 90° out of the structural alignment and closed off the building from the neighbours with the exception of an opaque glass strip along its upper edge. As if in exchange for this the living area on the first floor is fully glazed on the side facing the forest.

Apropos redolent knobbly synthetic flooring: we were to run into this once more, again in a public building, this time in Koper at Titov trg number 4, or the main square. The youthful Plusminus30 team were themselves the guides here together with the art historian Sonja Ana Hoyer, for which the field trip participants are naturally very grateful! The object of attention here was a conversion of two public buildings dating from the Renaissance, the Armerija and the Foresterija, with the Praetor’s Palace next door. In order to accommodate a university, or more precisely a humanities faculty plus the administrative headquarters of the Primorska University, Plusminus30 put up a new structure behind the historic buildings that is not visible from the main square. The new section is a success, fulfilling all its functions properly and the same can be said of the conversion, but with reservations – one would do well to know the whole story better; the impression arose that there was some hesitancy here between a decision to go all out for new architecture or as I see it to go all out for caution and conservation. An example of this was in the treatment of the wall frescoes where the effort had been made to make multiple layers visible at all costs, or also a portion of the painted wooden ceiling that was suspended from the roofing in a somewhat unmotivated manner. Two prison cells on the ground floor, dating from the time of Austrian rule, have been successfully converted into offices.

The last port of call was the Villa Artes by AA kultura on a difficult and steep embankment site on the road that turns down to Portorož. A thoroughly well thought-out dwelling project with eight apartments with an orientation towards the coast with gardens and historic quotations such as a large hall giving access to the apartments and also protecting them a little from the noise of the traffic. The road should be closed and life here would then be a dream – ought to be, because a court case is currently in session on the authorization for use. Local stone was used, the strip facade was also based on models from the historic city palaces in the coastal towns.

General issues
Fabian Wallmüller (Graz), Spela Leskovic and Ales Kosak (AKSL Arhitekti, Ljubljana) planned the field trip down to the last detail and took care of the perfect organisation together with Slovenian colleagues. The Styrian Central Association is grateful to them. Thanks are also extended to bene & Co, the generous main sponsor and to Spar for the packed lunches.
The field trip next year will be to Friaul in Italy. Martin Krammer and Špela Hudnik had a preliminary discussion on the subject with a young colleague from Friaul in a café on the main square near the cathedral in Koper, while the group visited the university… everyone interested is invited to come along!

(1) Pronouncing: Be-uk

Images: Karin Wallmüller

Maria Nievoll, report


Wed 09/05/2007

Artikelempfehlungen der Redaktion


Am 21. April 2007 brach die ZV Steiermark mit 34 Architekturinteressierten nach Sowenien auf, um im Rahmen einer zweitägigen Exkursion neueste Bauten von Ljubljana bis Koper zu besichtigen.

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