NLB Avla Gallery opened an exhibition of Ravnikar’s planning of the Republic Square in Ljubljana

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On November 29, a Ravnikar’s exhibition opened showing his architectural planning and development of the main square in the Slovenian capital. Called Method, Form, Material – development of the Trg republike and Ravnikar’s architecture as a learning research polygon, it was put up in collaboration between the NLB and Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana and conceived and designed by assistant Katarina Čakš together with her students and docent Rok Žnidaršič, deputy mayor of Ljubljana and professor at the Faculty of Architecture. You can come and see it until the spring of 2024 during business hours of the NLB branch where the NLB Avla Gallery is located.

Year 2023 was declared the year of the architect Edvard Ravnikar, who created an internationally recognized opus, which puts the Slovenian capital on the world map next to other top world capitals. The central part of his opus is Trg republike, the country’s main republic square with the cultural centre and the two recognizable high-rise buildings. This exhibition presents the several years of planning of this exceptional public space. Through the genesis of the so-called Republic Square and cultural centre Cankarjev dom, we follow the decomposition of static space into a dynamic composition, a series of spaces of different shapes and characters. Ravnikar’s work method is reflected in the development of the presented project – a creative process continuously going back to check what has been achieved, also enabling a quick response to constant substantive, financial and spatial changes.

At the opening ceremony, Irena Čuk, director of NLB Cultural Heritage Institute, said: “NLB pays special attention to the preservation of cultural heritage, which is why our banking group has a non-profit institute that manages a collection of banking artefacts and Slovenia’s largest private collection of modern and contemporary art. It also manages the Bankarium, Slovenian Banking Museum and the Avla Gallery. I am extremely proud that we have been able to honour the architect Ravnikar by putting up an exhibition in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture in the NLB tower, which is a monument to the heritage of the architectural and banking professions, and at the same time one of Ravnikar’s most recognized works.” She mentioned two of their latest projects – a new collection of contemporary art from the NLB Group’s home SEE region and the development of a contemporary art gallery in the Bankarium building on Čopova street in the centre of Ljubljana, the opening of which is planned to take place in autumn 2024.

“By setting up a new collection and a new gallery, the Institute is bringing together the mission of financial literacy with artistic literacy and art patronage,” concluded Irena Čuk.

The dean of the Faculty of Architecture, professor Miha Demšar, highlighted the following: “I am particularly proud and happy that we are opening the exhibition dedicated to Ravnikar in his own place, in the high-rise on Trg Republike or the so-called republic square, which is his key work and at the same time the most important symbol of Slovenian sovereignty in the architectural sense. It unites and connects the bank, the city and the country, as well as the Faculty of Architecture, which is the heir of Plečnik’s and Ravnikar’s tradition.” He reminded us of what Ravnikar once said: Progress is a continued tradition, and tradition is preserved progress. “This idea suggests a reflection on the connection between theory, urbanism and architecture, school and the city, young people and old people, between the past and the future. Ravnikar’s work is extremely complex. The very complexity of understanding and reading architecture is what is most important for students to learn and for the general public to get to know about: what architecture can do, what defines it, what it influences and what it is a part of.

Rok Žnidaršič, docent at the Faculty of Architecture, explained that several exhibitions dedicated to Edvard Ravnikar can be seen in the immediate vicinity. “In addition to this one in the Avla Gallery, there is an exhibition in the lobby of the high-rise building at Trg republike 3 and two in the Cankarjev dom, and there will be another exhibition joining them in the Museum of Architecture and Design. It is precisely in this mosaic of exhibitions broadening our horizons that extraordinary possibilities are opening up, which is very useful. This mosaic of different views is the very thing that points at the continuation of Ravnikar’s idea and work, which was always exploratory and somewhat revolutionary even within his own opus. This is beautifully demonstrated by the exhibition Method, Form, Material, which looks for his method in his one creation: Ravnikar as an architect, teacher, thinker, painter approaching a particular space and his understanding of it.”