Ljubljana, 1940

Plečnik* Story

Ljubljana City (sumber; http://www.tbs-education.fr)


I am not making a new city. I am fulfilling the city that has in potential always been, and that has waited for me, its architect, to be realized in its full glory. From my modern masters I have learned about monumentality, about tabula rasa, and breaking with the past. I had to learn these things in order to forget them consciously, for in Ljubljana my task is different. I was born in this town and I will die here, so that it can become itself. No longer a sleeping provincial town, but the city it has always wanted to be, crowned by its castle, its streets radiant sunbeams springing off from the centre, the river its vital vein.

I am the writer of this city, I write in stones and trees, I write the paths under people’s feet, I write the course of the river, I write in repetition. My handwriting repeats itself in the city, in different disguises: in the pyramids and spheres at bridges and street corners, silently referring to one another, in the pavement of niches and benches, in subtle additions to buildings, in the replacement of old buildings by new ones, expressing the spirit of the true Ljubljana.

I have erected a building for wisdom in the city, the National and University Library. Its façade in stones and bricks, alive in its plasticity, can be seen from Castle Hill, and even when seen from there its rhythm seems to speak with the million voices of its erudite content. I have given it doors in heavy copper, with noble horse heads as handshakes. Inside, the dark tone of respect. Black marble, big columns, a monumental staircase leading in one long flight to the reading room high and pleasant, I used wooden tables on marble columns, and modern industrial lamps to enlighten the students on their path to knowledge. I have envisioned plan for a whole new university, at the edge of Tivoli Park. How great it would be, such a centre of knowledge and innovation embedded in the city’s most prominent park, a dialogue between the old power of the palace and the modern power of knowledge.

So far, the municipality has not approved my plan, but I continue to take step towards it: I have already redesigned the axis from Tivoli Palace to the city, widening the path, placing trees and lamp poles along it. I even took care of the dead of the city, so that they, too, will rest in the spirit of Ljubljana.  I designed the gates to the Žale cemetery, I made chapels, the memories monuments, the tombstones for the dead. My urban project, my life work, is timeless: there is no distinction between future and past, between the living and the dead.

I am neither a modernist nor a classicist, I observe and craft the city in all dimensions, I care for its details and its urban whole, I made it speak, I make it come alive by its intersecting narratives, I imagine and I realize this city, Ljubljana**.

* Jože Plečnik, 1872-1957, the architect who have strong impact on the identity of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Designed the triple bridge, Slovene National and University Library, Žale cemetery, Ljubljana river banks, parks, plazas, etc.

**taken from Klaske Havik’s Urban Literacy