Alternative Way

Alternative Way
Alternative Way

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Plečnik is the most prominent Balkan architect of the 20th century, his buildings in the 1920s and 1930s largely determined the appearance of the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana. But he is seen not only as an exponent of the national character in architecture: his work is seen as an alternative to the "classical" modernism of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe.

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Jože Plečnik (1872 - 1957) studied in the 1890s. in Vienna with Otto Wagner, worked in his workshop. Having implemented several of his own projects in the Austrian capital at the beginning of the 20th century, Plečnik moved to Prague, where in 1920 he began teaching at the School of Applied Arts. At the same time, he took up a large-scale project for the reconstruction of Prague Castle and its transformation into the residence of the president of independent Czechoslovakia. He also managed to build the Church of the Sacred Heart in Prague in the Vinohrady district.

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Since the mid-1920s, his focus has shifted to his native Slovenia. He became a professor at the Faculty of Technology at the University of Ljubljana, a position that Jože Plečnik held until his death in 1957.

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Before World War II, which began in Slovenia in 1941, the architect built numerous structures in Ljubljana: public buildings, churches, bridges, decorated the central squares and parks of the city. After the war, Plečnik was mainly engaged in the reconstruction of historical monuments in various cities of the country, as well as building churches. One of his last structures was a park pavilion in the ensemble of the residence of Josip Broz Tito in the Brijuni archipelago.

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The style of Jože Plečnik's buildings was undoubtedly influenced by the Vienna Secession and architectural expressionism, as well as Slovenian and Slovak folk architecture. At the same time, the classical tradition was of great importance to him. Images of ancient Rome, buildings of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque found expression in Plečnik's projects of all periods of creativity. His idea to make Ljubljana "the new Athens" was expressed precisely in the forms of Roman architecture of different eras. The imperial forums turned into the city market and the Zhale cemetery, the Renaissance palaces into the National and University Library, the urban planning axes of Ljubljana, paved by Plečnik, reminded of Baroque Rome.

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Jože Plečnik rejected the laconic forms and minimalism of modernist buildings, actively using historical motives and abundant decor, modified in accordance with the general decision of the building. After the Second World War, his work found little understanding among his contemporaries; the large-scale project of the Slovenian Parliament building (1947) ordered to him was not implemented. Interest in the work of Jože Plečnik revived only in the period of postmodernism, when there was a general enthusiasm for a more complete and varied picture of the development of 20th century architecture that was not limited to the “Modern Movement”.

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On the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the architect, the Architectural Museum of Ljubljana holds various commemorative events dedicated to the life and work of Jože Plečnik. This is the opening of a revised permanent exhibition of his projects, and the holding of a monographic exhibition of his works in the Krakow International Cultural Center, and various cultural and educational events in Ljubljana, designed to draw attention to this remarkable architect.

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