In 2017 we are celebrating the Plecnik year to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the birth and the 60th anniversary of the death of the architect Jože Plecnik. But our recognition and valuation of his creations is not limited solely to a moment in time and space because his work touches the very universality and timelessness recognizable to all attentive observers.
Characterized by the remains of the Roman period and particularly by Baroque style architecture, Ljubljana received its fi rst modern urban design, a work of Plecnik’s contemporary Maks Fabiani, after the earthquake in 1895. From being a sleepy provincial town it transformed into a modern Art-Noveaustyle capital displaying new aesthetic ideals. It took Plecnik nearly three decades to put his vision of Ljubljana into reality. Faced with an already built up space, he redesigned and upgraded it, and between 1921 and 1957 he filled its city grid with a number of impressive buildings. The National and University Library, the Garden of All Saints – Žale, the St. Francis Church in Šiška, and the Ljubljanica bridges are some of his most important interventions with the city. The land axis leading from his house in Trnovo to the Congress Square and the Zvezda Park in the city center represents the city’s cultural avenue. The water axis comprises the arrangement of the Ljubljanica basin, starting with the Trnovski pristan embankment, continuing with the Ljubljanica embankments in the city center, the Cobblers Bridge, the Triple Bridge and the main market, and ending in the sluice gates.
With the reconstruction of the embankments and bridges, and with the placing of trees and other vegetation, which he regarded as an important architectural tool, Plecnik lent the city on the Ljubljanica a Mediterranean character. The third axis connected the Jakopic Promenade in the Tivoli Park and the Ljubljana castle on the Castle Hill. The Garden of All Saints, a part of today’s Žale Cemetery, represents a special place, Plecnik’s expression of extreme sensitivity and respect for the citizens of Ljubljana. He transformed the city to such an extent that today we see it as »Plecnik’s Ljubljana «, a unique phenomenon of urban planning and a 20th century total work of art.
In parallel with the Slovenian capital, Plecnik was also active in Prague where his renovations of the Prague Castle, commissioned by the President Masaryk, and his design for the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord became a source of inspiration for many Czech architects. One or the other capital featured as the birthplace, the place for interaction, variation and realization of many of his ideas.
To ensure international recognition of the architect’s work, Slovenia and the Czech Republic have joined efforts in the project for inscribing his architecture on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Contrary to the trends in architecture at the beginning of the twentieth century, in particular the domineering modernist style, Plecnik developed his own unique architectural language. His unique approach to the re-interpretation of architectural heritage and extremely rich symbolism include the elements of timeless architecture. With this approach, he upgrades and reinterprets the space, while at the same modernizes it and looks for the new ways to utilize its traditional functions. His architecture offers universal solutions for big issues of different generations and thus remains always relevant.
In collaboration with the Museum of Architecture and Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana with Plečnik the Ministry of Culture prepared a traveling exhibition "Plecnik's Ljubljana".