The Structure of Modernity

The Searches of Edvard Ravnikar
Grad Fužine, Pot na Fužine 2, 01000 Ljubljana
Mon–Sun 8 am–6 pm

Edvard Ravnikar (1907–1993) defined the space of modern Slovenian society and state, transformed our understanding of the role of the architect, and opened architecture to creative doubt and incomplete design experiments. The significance of Ravnikar’s legacy and the question of the preservation of architectural heritage of the 20th century calls for its actualisation in the spirit of the 21st century. Ravnikar’s spaces have significantly shaped the process of independent Slovenia, as well as its social and political upheavals; and they raise questions of accessible public space, energy, programme, and the seismic retrofitting of buildings. These challenges call for responsible interventions combining the preservation of heritage with the adaptation of such to a social and environmental present that is fundamentally different from Ravnikar’s time.

These are the questions that the exhibition at MAO addresses. Based on detailed research of donations related to Ravnikar’s legacy from Ravnikar’s heirs and the Faculty of Architecture, the exhibition will present the complex development of some of Ravnikar’s key works rather than an overview of his entire oeuvre.  It was Ravnikar who redirected the development of Slovenian modernism towards a distinct and regionally inspired language, which was, however, constantly in touch with the global architectural scene.

The exhibition will present four veins of Ravnikar’s work in detail: his monuments from the 1950s (especially the monuments at Rab, Draga, and Goreljek, which created an entirely new modernist sense of poetics in connection with the landscape); the public buildings in Kranj (especially the Kranj Municipal Building, which, along with Plečnik’s NUK, is perhaps the most important overall architectural work of art of 20th century Slovenia); Square of the Revolution – today’s Square of the Republic – with its representative complex of state institutions (with which Ravnikar created the form, scale, and space of Slovenian statehood); and his urban planning projects (especially his visionary plans for Skopje and Venice, which are in today’s time of social and environmental turmoil perhaps even more meaningful than when they were created). The MAO exhibition will include a presentation of Ravnikar’s sketches in the reception hall at Cankarjev dom, Ravnikar’s holistically conceived ambient-rich creation in the very heart of the city. The sketches will present Ravnikar’s fantasy-rich inner world to the general public, a world that differs considerably from the seemingly rational process of creating extensive modernist complexes.

The exhibition will present Ravnikar’s remarkable oeuvre with authentic source material: original plans and sketches, original and newly commissioned models, rich photography and film materials, accounts and testimonies from Ravnikar’s colleagues and pupils, and material from Ravnikar’s teaching and research. The exhibition will be accompanied by a bilingual monograph on Ravnikar, with contributions by local and international experts.