Fragments of the project in the collection of Museum of Architecture and Design
11. Februar – 22. May 2016
Republic Square (formerly Revolution Square) was designed as a complex of administrative, business and public cultural buildings that was to redefine the city centre of Ljubljana and constitute the centre of political, cultural and economic life in Slovenia. Architect Edvard Ravnikar wanted to introduce a new dimension and a new social place to the nation’s capital. The square has its roots in the country’s history, marked with public buildings and places where important events have taken place.
Republic Square, created between 1960 and 1983, was the result of a competition that was intended to create
an appropriate site in which to erect the Monument to the Revolution. Architect Edvard Ravnikar won the opencall competition launched by the city authorities in 1959. Construction of the square’s main buildings began in 1962; at the same time the Investment Fund for the Construction of Revolution Square (IZTR), which employed engineers from various disciplines, was founded for the purposes of implementing the project. The overall concept for the main buildings of the square underwent a number of modifications in the design process, from the rotation of the triangular volume to reducing the height of the skyscrapers. Ljubljanska Banka moved into one of the skyscrapers, so Ravnikar re-designed the ground floor in what became an expanded pavilion structure.
Large perspective drawings, which were probably made during the design of the ground floor of the bank, show the architect’s study of the interior of the bank’s liquidations department and square in front of the bank. The Republic Square complex consists of an open plateau-square and underground garages as well as the Maximarket department store, opened in 1971, and the Cankarjev dom cultural and congress centre (1977-1983).
The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) maintains an extensive collection of material on the Republic
Square project. The exhibition in NLB Gallery Avla puts two MAO exhibitions side by side and shows the square area in different contexts and scales. The Republic Square project is presented through sketches, studies and photographs that were included in the exhibition Under a Common Roof: Modern Public Buildings from the MAO Collection and Other Archives, which emphasised the importance of institutionalised attention to the larger common good. This same mission forms the very foundations of the Museum of Architecture and Design; as a result the work and various activities of the museum provide a forum for democratic debate and wider, collective reflection on urbanity, the city centre and architecture.
The retrospective exhibition Saša J. Mächtig: systems, structures, strategies presents the systemic planning
approach practiced by designer Saša J. Mächtig and opens a number of questions related to public space. His ideas are inextricably linked to the concept of city streets and street furniture. His Kiosks K67, Žaba trash bins, bus shelter systems, telephone hoods and cinema listings info cabinets were all part of a scheme to facilitate specifically urban actions and rituals, for the exchange of information and the promotion of everyday practices.
The photographs exhibited in the NLB Gallery Avla present Mächtig’s iconic designs as taken at Republic Square – and it is no coincidence that Mächtig chose to present his work in the context of Ravnikar’s dynamic urban complex. After all, as a teacher and mentor, Ravnikar had a decisive influence on Mächtig’s thinking and practice.
Both Ravnikar’s Republic Square and Mächtig’s systems for street furniture stem from and address far broader issues of urban spatial planning and the relationship and interaction between architecture, design and urbanism.
The exhibition has been put together by the Museum of Architecture and Design and NLB Gallery Avla on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the skyscraper at Trg republike 2, Ljubljana, and is part of a series of accompanying events connected with the retrospective exhibition Saša J. Mächtig: systems, structures, strategies. The exhibition Saša J. Mächtig: systems, structures, strategies is open until April 3, 2016 in
Museum of Architecture and Design.