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Visiting Plečnik’s house in Ljubljana

Visiting Plečnik’s house in Ljubljana

The great Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) was a visionary and a reformer. He was a pioneer in urban planning. His legacy belongs to Ljubljana, Vienna and Prague. From early on, his works were marked with elements of Secession although they were designed in a modern style.

With modesty, quietly and in a reticent manner we entered the home of the great Slovenian and European architect in Trnovo in Ljubljana (V Plečnikovi hiši). And we indulge ourselves into the beauty and richness of his works, still very much present, even if the artist is no longer among us …

by Sonja Bezjak

joe-plenik-4
Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) was a visionary and a reformer. He was a pioneer in urban planning. His legacy belongs to Ljubljana, Vienna and Prague.

Master Plečnik returns from Prague

The great architect moved  to his house in Trnovo in Ljubljana in 1921 after returning from Prague, when he began lecturing architecture to Ljubljana students.

Two of the doors had to be opened and closed before a spacious garden appeared in front of our eyes and the scent of a great architectural master started to blow from all sides. On 4 Karunova Street master Plečnik has found refuge from the bourgeois life.

A Peunik_valjasti prizidek
Photo by: Andrej Peunik, MGML

A long view stretched between the branches of the mighty gingko tree and a branched cherry, which were giving company to an oak, walnut,yew tree and a Christmas holly.

The warm voice of the curator of the Museum and Galleries of LjubljanaAna Porok began to tell about the time, long left behind, when Plečnik had been walking around the garden.
”Look at this glasshouse, the pillars remained from the construction of the Vzajemna Ljubljana Health insurance house, and stone paving of the building of the National University Library (Slovenian NUK).”  
A Peunik_zimski vrt
Jože Plečnik created a unique architectural style, mixing Baroque and Secession, Classicism and Modernism (Photo by: Andrej Peunik, MGML)

South facade is just the right starting point for the immediate realization of our great luck. At this address we will be closely and intimately experiencing the master’s great works.

Ivy at the entrance

The lock gritted and in front of us the entrance hall of Plečnik’s house opened. From here on wards, each piece of the equipment will tell its own story and with each one we will become richer in peace and beauty.

The bright entrance hall is adorned with green ivy, which the architect’s hand planted. Plečnik just loved greenery, and this is still possible to admire in his creations. Somewhere between the leaves, the statue of the local patron saint Joseph greets us.

Plecnikova_Hisa_MGML_FOTO_Paternoster_01
Every piece has its story (Photo by: Matevž Paternoster, MGML)

On the stone floor among the flowers the fragments of Emona Ljubljana are exhibited, as well as pieces of rocks which the architect brought from his travels.

In the corner of the stairs there is a Reception area to welcome the arrival of guests. The table and ascetic bench are letting the guest know that they will not be staying for too long. We certainly need to understand – Plečnik had always work waiting for him.

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Photo by: Matevž Paternoster, MGML

The master still “lives” in the house

After a few stairs we climb into the house. In those ancient times only a few were able to continue to the guest reception room, which smells of wood.  We are lucky, as friendly curator invites us forward.

On the left, the stairs lead us into the kitchen, where by the oven a chair is waiting for the master to sit on. Here he picks up a pencil and a sketchpad and with a careful line announces his new, clear thoughts.

plecnik_equipment
Plečnik believed that architecture had an important role in the life of the individual, the society and the nation.

On the table a cup for a real, black, Turkish coffee is ready. If Plečnik was at home, or his housekeeper Urška at least, we certainly could smell the coffee. From the kitchen we can also observe the trees, and the green ivy which adorns the wall-sized windows of the entrance hall.

plecnik_klobuk
Plečnik was a deeply religious man and entirely devoted  to the ethical mission of his profession; he never got married.

Is Mr. Architect maybe in the studio? The thoughts ask the question themselves…

Continuing down the hallway we entered the extension of the house, which speaks to the spirit quite differently.

We enter quietly and behind us we close the doors of the round room, which overlooks down on the sleepy garden.  In the infinite space that is all in one, Plečnik worked and rested.

Plecnikova_Hisa_MGML_FOTO_Paternoster_11
Quiet and modest in life, Plečnik was rediscovered posthumously. He won international recognition with the great retrospective exhibition at the Centre G. Pompidou in Paris in 1986. (Photo by: Matevž Paternoster, MGML)

Hours with the students

It cannot be long, since the architect has been gone.  The desk is filled with pens and feathers, including notes, books, somewhere in between his glasses lie and a pair of black shoes under the desk …

On the wooden beams on the ceiling a gold muse sophistically invites and calls to work. Her power has been remarkable. Behind this large wooden table Plečnik was tirelessly sketching for decades.

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Behind this large wooden table Plečnik was tirelessly sketching for decades. (Photo by: Matevž Paternoster, MGML)

Even more of the tranquility comes into space, when we realize that master’s life ended in this room; but far from it, that we could anticipate even the breath of death. Although it is the autumn, the smell of the wood, pictures on the walls, selected souvenirs and pictures testify about the life.

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Photo by: Matevž Paternoster, MGML

On the stairs up which are wrapped around a cylindrical core, we climb higher among the treetops to the room, which Plečnik’s younger brother Janez (Engl. John) decorated.  Their different characters – Jože’s ascetic serious and reserved and Janez’s sociable and playful – soon separated the two brothers.

When the latter moved out after a few months of living together, in an empty room Plečnik arranged another studio. This is where during the Second World War he hosted the students of Architecture. Despite the war circumstances trained them in his art.

Dokumentacija MGML_Pleƒnik pred svojo hiþo, ok. 1926
His daily needs were extremely modest; he would refuse to accept payment for his work; he disliked writing about him and above all, he distrusted the one-sided technical enchantment of our civilization. Plečnik infront of his house, around 1926 (Photo by: Documentation MGML)

Not one day is quite the same

We descend again and below the stairs we disappear into the narrow passage, which compresses the soul. But only for a moment. Then in a bright glass house that smells of citruses and oleanders the soul expands again and breathes in the full enthusiasm.

The day would be the same as the other if we wouldn’t know the joyful excitement which is born from the pools of the beautiful, full and inexhaustibly rich.

apiary

In the cold shadow of the early winter Plečnik’s apiary is resting and a resting vegetable garden gives him hope that spring will come again…

If you felt like looking even deeper, then it is definitely time to visit Plečnik’s house at Karunova 4 in Ljubljana. The experts from the Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana will tell you more and so much more with the greatest enthusiasm.

AFTER TWO YEARS OF RENOVATION THE UNIQUE PLEČNIK HOUSE IS OPEN again. You can read more about the renovation on this link.

With the legacy of the great Slovenian architect JožePlečnik (1872-1957) we can get even more familiar if we visit places around Slovenia and outside its borders, in Vienna and in Prague.



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