Prelovsek AHAS 3angl


National style in Slovene architecture

In the latter half of the 19th century, architecture in Slovenia developed within the sphere of Viennese historicism. This, in turn, was influenced by fashionable European trends of the time which, however, did not always reach the Slovene land. A fatal disadvantage here proved to be the lack of sense of glorifying paramount events in the national history. Because the thematics of this kind was suppressed and went on living in subconsciousness, it would manifest itself again and again in various forms. In architecture it found expression in the search for a national style through relying on the traditions of folk creativity. Such a mixture of ethnography and art could not yield lasting results. The "National Coffee-House" (Narodna kavarna) of 1898, a work by the architect Ivan Jager (1871–1959), encouraged no proper following. Maks Fabiani (1865–1962), who was summoned by the mayor, Ivan Hribar, to participate in the rebuilding of Ljubljana after the earthquake of 1895, was much less inclined to the search of this kind. On the contrary, his buildings organically correspond with the tradition of the naturalized Baroque architecture of the Italian type, deeply rooted in Slovenia.

The question of a specific style which should demonstrate traditional features of Slovene art was raised again after the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The architect Ivan Vurnik (1884–1971) began to introduce individual folk motifs into his architecture, however he soon changed his mind and turned to functionalism. The most comprehensive view of the national problematics is embodied in the architecture of Jože Plečnik (1872–1957). His was not a matter of relying directly on the motifs of folk art or quoting regional traits, but rather a very personal modification of classical elements. Plečnik's belief that the Slovenes are late descendants of the Etruscans enabled him to borrow from them legitimately, in the sense of a national style. With the aid of the syntax, rhythm and proportions he tended to achieve a mood which, as he believed, found expression in the entire Slovene artistic output. Plečnik went on searching for a Slovene national architecture well into the middle of the present century. He managed to create a variety of original solutions which, by their wealth of invention, surpass similar tendencies in European art.