Tudi arhitekti smo soočeni z velikimi izzivi, ki jih pred nas postavlja iztekajoče se tisočletje. Razcepljeni smo med držo intelektualca, katerega temeljna značilnost je, da odpira vedno nova vprašanja, in tehnika, ki naj daje pravilne odgovore. Brez prvega na širokem področju naše dejavnosti ni iskanja, ni razvoja in tudi ne umetniškega presežka. Brez drugega ni strokovne verodostojnosti, družbene uporabnosti in ekonomske smotrnosti. Problem nastane takrat, kadar se je mogoče opredeliti samo za obe skrajnosti; ali za radikalno in elitistično umetniško držo ali pa čisto pragmatično, utilitarno in komercialno prakso. Pri nas se je zgodilo prav to. Skoraj nezavedno se je počasi talila in končno skoraj docela izgubila povezava med obema skrajnima držama. Z njo se je sčasoma izgubil tudi tisti široki spekter normalnosti, ki bi zagotavljal visoko raven povprečja dela arhitektov.
Takšno stanje v slovenski arhitekturi je samo nadaljevanje prehoda od kolektivnih vrednot k individualnim, ki so postale izrazitejše v toku osemdesetih let. Slovensko arhitekturno kvaliteto tako predstavlja vedno ožji krog arhitektov in tudi med njimi je vse manj sorodnih potez. Njihove realizacije so vedno bolj redke in sofisticirane dovršenosti, ki s stvarnostjo gradnje nimajo več pravega stika. Perspektive samo sebe reflektirajoče discipline, v kakršno se je arhitektura ujela pod vplivom nekaterih nazorov 80., so se izkazale za omejene. Ujeta v paradigmo privatizirane kulturne industrije izgublja naša arhitektura svoj socialni pomen in veljavo. Med revščino zgrajenega in revščino blazirane kritike, ki se s stvarnostjo očitno ne želi in ne upa kompromitirati, se je vzpostavilo jalovo sožitje.
Kljub temu pa redki preboji pričajo o tem, da je možna tudi sinteza znanja, nadarjenosti in navdiha arhitekta z željami in pričakovanji naročnika.
Za današnji čas je značilna konjunktura gradbene dejavnosti, hkrati obstajajo številne državne, javne, komercialne in samograditeljske gradbene pobude. Kar se tega tiče, torej ni pravih razlogov za obupavanje.
Vendar je arhitektura kljub temu pri nas že dalj časa v globoki krizi. Vzroki za krizo so mnogovrstni. Najprej je tu nizka kultura naročnikov, tako individualnih kot javnih, potem je sama stroka, ki se ne znajde v novih razmerah; po eni strani se brani, da ne bi izgubila še tistega, kar ima, po drugi strani se prilagodljivi del stroke prehitro odpove svoji kulturni odgovornosti. Postavlja se torej vprašanje, kako popularizirati dobro arhitekturo. Takšna, kakršna je, ni sposobna komunikacije z dejanskim. Ozira se za medijsko izpostavljenimi vrhovi mednarodne produkcije, pozablja pa na širino temelja.
Arhitekti načeloma vemo, kaj je dobra arhitektura in kakšna naj bi bila, ne vemo pa, kako jo uveljaviti, kako tržiti nove, dobre ideje, kako jih razširjati. S tem se pravzaprav nihče ne ukvarja. Kriteriji za kvaliteto so naravnani previsoko, premiki se ne prepoznajo kot vrednost, se skratka ne podpirajo v smislu spreminjanja razmer. Pri teh pogojih ni pravih spodbud za inovacijo. Na prenašanje že znanih idej se gleda podcenjevalno, zato se tudi diskretni presežki težko opazijo in še težje primejo, saj nimajo potrebne strokovne podpore. Nasprotno, poudarjajo se zgolj pomanjkljivosti. Zelo redko zasledimo kritiko, ki poskuša poleg napak odkriti tudi kaj tistega, kar kakorkoli teži k kvaliteti.
Dogajanje v stroki spremljata stalno nezadovoljstvo in občutek brezizhodnosti, ko vsi čakamo, da bi se končno zgodilo kaj prelomnega, nihče pa ne napravi odločnega koraka. Vse preveč se pozivamo na državo in od nje pričakujemo, da bo prevzela aktivno vlogo pri spreminjanju razmer. Vendar so, vsaj zaenkrat, časi državnega skrbništva minili; če sami ne bomo vedeli, kaj hočemo, nam nihče drugi ne bo znal prav pomagati. Seveda moramo najprej zamenjati notranje delitve na naprednjake in nazadnjake, in sicer s skupno zavestjo o tem, da kvaliteta v arhitekturi presega doktrinarne spore ali neproduktivna vprašanja stila. Poleg razcepljene strokovne zavesti je problem tudi razprševanje moči oziroma atomizacija dejanj. Če tveganje ni dovolj razširjeno, tudi ni kritične mase, tj. tistega potrebnega števila nenadoma in v kratkem obdobju zgrajenih inovativnih arhitektur, ki bi lahko povzročile preobrat.
Vendar se nekaj le dogaja. Gre za zaenkrat še preneznatne fragmente, na videz obotavljive premike, pa vendar za uveljavljanje nekaterih novih idej v okvirih družbene sprejemljivosti ter v naložbeno in izvedbeno obvladljivem dosegu. To so pravzaprav vzorčni primeri za nešteto vsakdanjih problemov, ki za stroko niso najbolj zanimivi. Povratek se je začel pri notranjih opremah in se nadaljuje s temo družinske hiše, kjer imajo novosti najbolj neposreden vpliv na spreminjanje klišejev. Morda je modrost tega časa to, da si prizadevamo celiti rane in ne slaviti fragmentacije. Vsak od tokrat izbranih primerov pomeni majhen preboj in ima v sebi nastavek neke nove, širše zamisli. To tudi niso niti velike niti dovršene arhitekture, ki bi bile povsem dosledno izpeljane. Predstavljajo pa primere tako imenovane pozitivne prakse za številne podobne naloge. Ko bi večina zgrajenega dosegala vsaj približno takšno raven, bi bil to lahko dovolj trden temelj tudi za morebiti vrhunske stvaritve.
Contemporary architects, like so many others, are facing great challenges imposed by the expiring millennium. We are divided between the position of the intellectual, the basic characteristics of whom is a constant searching for new questions, and of a technician, who should give the right answers. Without the former, the broad field of our activities remains with no research, development nor artistic surplus. Without the latter, there is no expert liability, social application and economic feasibility. The problem arises when one can only choose between the two extremes, either the radical and elite artistic position, or a purely pragmatic, applied and commercial one. And this is exactly what happened in Slovenia. Almost unconsciously the connection between both extreme situations melted, until it finally almost completely disappeared. With it, that broad spectrum of normality which was supposed to ensure a high level of architects’ average work disappeared as well.
Such a situation in Slovenian architecture is only a continuation of transition from collective to individual values, which became more apparent during the 80’s. Slovenian architectural quality is thus represented by a continuously narrowing circle of architects. Even among them, we find less and less common features. Their realisations are becoming rarer and rarer, examples of sophisticated perfection, loosing the real connection with reality. Perspectives of self-reflecting discipline, in which architecture got caught under the influence of some convictions from the 80’s, proved to be limited. Our architecture, caught in the paradigm of privatised cultural industry, looses its social significance and importance. Between the poverty of the already built, and the poverty of conceited criticism, which apparently does not want nor dare to compromise itself with the reality, a fruitless coexistence was established.
In spite of that, some rare achievements witness that a synthesis is possible between an architect’s knowledge, talent and inspiration, and a customer’s wishes and expectations.
A conjuncture of building activities is typical for our time. At the same time numerous state, public, commercial and self-constructing building offers exist. As far as this is concerned, there are therefore no reasons for despair.
In spite of that, Slovene architecture has been in a deep crisis for quite some time now. Many different reasons exist for this. First, there is a low culture of customers, both individual and public, then the branch itself which does not seem to manage new circumstances: on one hand it is afraid to loose what it still possesses, on the other the more adaptable side of the branch gives up its cultural responsibility all too quickly. A question therefore arises about how to popularise quality architecture. As it is now, architecture is not capable of communicating with reality. It only regards the top levels of international production, widely covered by the media, but it disregards the broadness of the basis.
In principle, architects know what quality architecture is and what it should be like, but we do not know how to make it popular, how to trade new, good ideas, how to expand them. In fact, nobody deals with these questions. Quality criteria are too high, new moves are not recognised as new values, in short they are not supported as moves which change the situation. In these conditions there is no real encouragement for innovation. Transferring new ideas is underestimated, that is why even discreet surpluses are hardly ever noticed and even more rarely permanently accepted, since they have no support from the experts. On the contrary, only deficiencies are pointed out. It is rare that we can find a critical review which tries not only to find mistakes, but also uncovers a piece of that something which tends towards quality.
The situation in architecture is followed by constant dissatisfaction and a sense of going nowhere, when everybody waits for something really radical to happen, but nobody makes the decisive step. All too often we turn towards the state, expecting it would take over the active part in the changing of circumstances. However, the times of state monitoring have passed, at least for now. If we ourselves do not know what we really want, nobody else will be able to really help us. Of course we should first change the inner division to progressive and regressive architects, with a common consciousness that quality in architecture surpasses disputes about doctrine or fruitless questions of style. Besides the divided consciousness, the problem is also the dispersion of power or atomising of actions. If risk is not expanded enough, then the critical mass does not exist, that is to say that necessary number of suddenly and quickly-built, new innovative architectural structures which would be able to cause a turnover.
However, something of this kind is happening, after all. For the moment these are still tiny fragments, apparently hesitating changes, but nevertheless changes towards the establishment of new ideas within the framework of social acceptability and acceptable from the point of view of investment and realisation. In fact these are model samples for numerous everyday problems, not too interesting for the branch itself. The comeback started with interior design and continued with the theme of family houses, where the innovations have the most direct impact on the changing of clichés. Perhaps the wisdom of this time lies in the fact that we are trying to heal the wounds and not to praise fragmentation. Each of the examples in our present choice represents a small push forward and contains the seed of a new, broader idea. These are not large-scale or perfect architectural examples with a completely consistent realisation. However, they represent examples of the so-called positive practice for numerous similar tasks. If the majority of built projects at least reached this level, this could be a solid enough basis for top-level achievements.
Row Houses in Koseze, Ljubljana, 1994
The conception is marked by a reflection upon the heterogeneous location, and by a careful upgrading of its quality predispositions. In this sense a higher quality of residential construction is realised as Siedlung. This is a revival of an already experienced tradition from the 60’s, today unfortunately forgotten, since the culture of the collective survives only with difficulty and adapts quickly to the general individualisation of life. In our case these changes are put in a well-considered typological framework. For this reason they are able to remain within the system and the original idea thus remains. The typical clearness and a uniformed principle of terraced construction prove to be too demanding and too binding for our time. The author was well aware of that. His architecture is therefore less radical and points towards the possibility of the implementation of a more popular aesthetics.
Houses in Čebelarska, Ljubljana, 1995
Apartments built in a difficult location do not erase its qualities, but change these limitied conditions into an advantage and a leading motive. The rural environment of Dravlje influences the decision for the use of the local combination of wood and bricks. The architect decided to develop three different houses, instead of creating one radical stroke on the limited building site. The disposable piece of land was divided in all directions in order to created different ambiences and small-scale sections. In this we feel the architect’s care to soften the necessity of living at one place and to create at least a minimum common space in the neighbourhood. The apartments are supplemented by extensions, huts, wooden nets and fences, in order to create further individualisation of the environement. With modest means, the apartment buildings offer a higher quality of terraced houses. The architect therefore tries to achieve an organic, not aesthetic order.
Aleš Vrhovec, Ira Zorko
Houses in Mokrška, Ljubljana, 1996
As opposed to the usual arrangement, the two houses are located with the longer side parallel to the street. In this way they divide the building site into frontage, inner courtyard and a garden. With gradations into the depths of the land the two houses complement each other and establish a common designed space which replaces the missing public space. The divisions between the public and the private are subtle, without material obstacles, which points towards the efforts of the architects to encourage the inhabitants to overcome their privateness in exchange for a higher culture of coexistence. In other countries this is not unusual. In Slovenia, however, the question arises about whether the feeling for neighbourhood can be revived at all.
Gradation in height influences the choice of materials and the geometry of openings. The ground floors are made of a combination of hard and long-lasting materials, due to exposed positions. These materials need a rougher treatment, in accordance with the traditional tectonics of the base. Wooden boxes with fine details are superposed on them, corresponding with the more intimate nature of spaces.
The outer house is smooth and uniform since it is composed of larger sections of common spaces and flats, while the inner house remains composed of different apartment units and is therefore corrugated. Typical architectural elements and details are very similar in order to make other differences between the two houses even more apparent: these are horisontal and vertical panelling, a lean-to roof and ridged roof, a harmonised rhythm of window arrangements versus a free arrangement, etc. The discreteness of forms is shown in the north entrance with the projecting roof formed only by the withdrawal of the upper section. That quality architecture, as a rule, remains misunderstood is already confirmed by the neighbouring house, which denies all the afore-mentioned efforts of the architects.
The SKB Bank, Koper, 1996
The business/residential building at the edge of the town combines two elements which appear separately in nature, and puts them side by side. In an environment with no great value it tries to connect the dispersed space and reshape it. Although the building stands alone, it tries to organise the outer spaces around it and give them a certain value. It is a fragment of an idea on an imaginary whole. It is attached to the neighbouring building, it creates the street facade, and a back piazzetta. The aesthetics is derived from a basic idea, it is a reserved, almost minimalistic combination of horizontal lines on the ground floor, and of verticals on the upper floors.
Marjan Zupanc, Špela Kuhar, Aleš Bizjak,
Track: Ralph Schürmann
Velodrome, Novo Mesto, 1996
A typical sport premise became, with its location in the middle of the forest, a constituent part of the landscape, which is one of the leading motives of the conception. It proves that it is possible to live in the woods without cutting down trees, to live in a coexistence which is able to raise the value to two different entities. The structure was built, and the environment was arranged in order to become permanently temporary. This allows for the possibility of different uses after the end of the championship. The service premises under the tribune was constructed with minimum means and in the aesthetics of the essential. The red wood on the facade proves that the architects did not want to create a mimicry. Well considered actions with modest means create a surplus in the manner of dealing with space and materials. Culture is not determined by the amount of money spent. The proof is two lighting columns, made of discarded cranes.