LJUBLJANA – On first look, this project brings to mind an office block from the 1990s. Perhaps a bank, with white vertical blinds separating different glass units. It evokes the stiffness of suits and commercial handshakes. Considering that the project is not situated within an old industrial complex but in a nineteenth-century townhouse, the design seems a little odd. It proposes a sterile, well-formed and mercilessly geometrical idea of an apartment.
It is a combination of all these things. The concrete flooring, the Plexiglassed panels with their aluminium beams and the strict grid-like layout of the apartment all play a role – mostly though their collective lack of colour and inherent minimalism which results in arid-seeming living conditions. It is the perfect environment for a painting by Max Bill or Bruno Munari. Although the living room is different – it has vintage wooden floors and is rather colourful – there is no escaping from the geometrical dictate.
The apartment is part of Sadar + Vuga’s vision. Looking at other projects by the firm, like the early Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia in 1996, one can see recurring elements of the narrative. What would have been blinds in the windows of the Chamber of Commerce are now moving walls. Though the strong geometry and affinity for tetris-like structures may have debuted there, the continuation is clearly visible in this renovation. The element of layering and putting things on top of each other also reoccurs in the recently finished KSEVT, the Cultural Center of EU Space Technologies. There it is the circle-shape that has been repeated and distorted to give the institution a futuristic feel. Visitors can look down on auditorium rooms, letting their gaze wander while remaining unseen.
A similarly Orwellian (1984) spot is the sofa in the living room in the Ljublana apartment, it offers views ‘to the city square, to the fireplace, to the dining table, and inside the bedroom, and if we look upwards, even a view upon ourselves.’ Welcome to the future.
Photos SADAR + VUGA