DESSA GALLERY
Architectural center
Židovska steza 4
SI-1000 Ljubljana
 
T +386 1 25 16 010
E galerija@dessa.si
 
OPEN
Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri: 12:00-18:00
Sat, Sun, Mon, Holidays: closed


PHOTOGALLERY




MEDPROSTOR AND TIME-IN-BETWEEN
Three projects of architectural office Medprostor
11. 10. - 17. 11. 2021

On monday, October 11, 2021, at 8 pm, we kindly invite you to the DESSA Gallery for the opening of the exhibition Medprostor and time-in-between of the architectural office Medprostor.

We kindly ask you to respect and follow covid restrictions. Entrance to DESSA gallery is possible only with proof of vaccination or covid-negative test.
 
 
MEDPROSTOR AND TIME-IN-BETWEEN
Maroje Mrduljaš

In 1924, Mies van der Rohe argued that "architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space." On the other hand, and perhaps paradoxically, Mies created architecture that strove towards eternity, whose "open" spatial conception was in fact fully complete and perfect, and thus unchanging, in a way denying the notion of existential time. Is a kind of reversal possible? Can we think of an architecture that is not firmly and unequivocally anchored in one particular cultural or existential moment; that grows out of its time but can simultaneously express multiple epochs; that lasts a long time and is capable of aging, changing, and offering different readings? Such architecture is interested in time (or temporality) understood as a concept that also refers to history and culture, to existential time, time of nature, time of material ... All these times have their own flow, their own speed and oscillations of current, their own plots. They can intertwine, cooperate and polemicize or sometimes do not even touch each other, but flow completely independently.

House Hribljane
Just below the top of a grassy hill, at the edge of the woods, invisible from neighbours’ view, stands a wooden family house of archetypically simple, yet somewhat unusual volume. It is a long block with a tin roof of a relatively mild slope. Its purpose is not immediately clear, and to the non-architect perhaps not even the time of its construction. The house is immaculately positioned, protected from the wind, gently laid on the ground and reproducing its slope within its structure. The project is resolved through the interplay between the main plot of the house (how does a modern family live in nature?) and a series of small dramaturgical themes. In each element of the building, the idea of a whole is also discernible, just as the whole logically grows out of its details: it is about the ability to think about architecture at different scales (and their corresponding times) at the same time.

The building is organized within a strict geometric module and a refined tectonic system that also enables efficient prefabrication. But this ‘modern time’ of modularity and prefabrication is intertwined with the ‘natural time’ of the aging wooden membrane that changes over time and which decays in different ways, depending on different micro-climatic conditions. The membrane of the building resists being subordinated to a human fear of the collapse of the shelter and becomes a detector of natural forces, it mediates between two times: that of its inhabitants' residence and the battle between nature and materials. Large and technically ingenious glass walls designed without visible frames contribute to this multi-time character of the house. If the general impression resonates with the vernacular tradition, the logic of glass walls belongs to a time of new technical possibilities but equally also to a new alliance of man and nature.

The complexity and anthropological foundation of the interior of the building can be compared to Loos’ Raumplan. As with Loos, the proportions, equipment, ways of approaching and interconnecting derive from the imaginative interpretation of the passions, customs, rituals and dynamics of an inhabitants’ daily life (sometimes an architect, like a psychoanalyst, knows more about their clients than they do themselves, which is why self-discipline is crucial to avoid excessive interpretation or projection of oneself into other people’s lives). The living room develops as a sequence of interior, brick-paved terraces with different heights and thermal conditions that range from a winter garden to the more intimate, warm kitchen. The children's room is an autonomous box that floats above the living room in a privileged way. The work space for two is inserted into the core of the building.

But these anthropological interests and the different times they are linked to are not separated from the time of the surroundings. The house is not only introverted, it also acts as an amplifier for the experience of nature, as a medium that helps tenants to cultivate sensitivity to the environment. The low-set glass wall that extends along the ramp allows sunlight deep into the living room. When one sits on the floor the horizon of the gaze is low, close to the ground. The high-set glass in the bedroom opens a view from the bed towards the sky, while the bedroom and the bathroom are connected by a hidden and protected floating atrium, a completely architectural fragment of nature. While in Loos structural clarity is consciously sacrificed in favour of spatial narrative, Medprostor reconciles structural discipline with spatial complexity.

There is no single ideology or aesthetic to which the house could be subordinated. One gets the impression that it was designed with a firm conviction and clear attitude, but the prevailing feeling is nevertheless an incredible tenderness and empathy from the architects towards the basic plot of the building. Each of the inhabitants can experience their own or collective time; themselves, shared life, nature. They can indulge in an archaic experience of the environment, while still feeling like a protagonist of the contemporary.

Let us add another observation that may seem arrogant. A comparison between the modern or between-time house in Hribljane and a traditional vernacular construction demonstrates the very differences in the quality that we usually associate with the latter: reduction to the essential and poetics. But these qualities in vernacular construction are a result of primitive wisdom, common sense decisions, and genericness perfected through generations. The House in Hribljane shows how a cultural, multi-temporal, reflective approach creates an equally grounded, but truly stimulating architecture that is not a prisoner of the codified experiences of previous generations.
 
Vižmarje Brod Sports Hall
At first glance, the Vižmarje Brod Sports Hall seems an autonomous, non-contextual facility. The hall was added to the complex of a picturesque single-storey primary school, reminiscent of the surrounding suburban fabric of single-family houses, it tries to fit into the homogeneity of the tidy suburbs of Ljubljana (and Slovenia), in which Miloš Kosec has recognized a "fear of society.” Pupils exchange the private kingdom of the family home for the yard and the institutional-collective framework of the school, but without encountering a significant architectural difference between the two. As if the time of intimate family life in an individual house and the time of collectivity and socialization at school were similar, equally comfortable and indisputable. A tree-lined avenue runs across the peaceful meadow landscape with houses in the background, there are no accents or deviations, because the scenery of the distant mountains is charming enough, everything takes place at the same time ...
 
Within this homogeneous, linear suburban plot, the sports hall and the public space around it take their users to a time of different priorities and values. We cannot say that the hall does not belong to its environment or that it is a formal excess, but there is a significant difference between it and its surroundings. The social and urban fabric of the suburbs belongs to a domestic time that is static, does not tolerate acceleration, and does not promote diversity. The time of the hall is open and changeable, even the greatest accelerations are possible in it, social interactions are strengthened in it, both frustrations and pleasures are openly expressed there.
 
The hall introduces different interpretations of the social and shines like a lantern in a middle of this context without context. The non-rhetorical volume is experientially rich: the polycarbonate envelope changes depending on the environment, the events in the hall and the interior lighting. The light of the lanterns changes slowly, always differently; overlapping on its membrane are images of the times of the suburban and the institutional, the artificial and the natural. It doesn't take much to form a public space. The long and low porch, which is imprinted in the volume of the hall, is facing the school as a friendly and unbinding invitation to enter; it belongs to both the hall and the square. The sports courts were dug in to reduce the height of the building. The gaze passes through the entire interior to the opposite façade with a glass wall along the ground. There are no borders and obstacles between the entrance and the auditorium, as this is the social core of the building. Moving through the building is seamless and logical, different user groups are treated equally, everyone has a right to their own time, with different times overlapping only where needed. All building elements are subordinated to a strict modular system, and formal decisions derive from geometric rhythms. Light wood, unplastered concrete, bright colours in the locker rooms. The interplay of transparency and translucency of the membrane and wooden surfaces is crucial for the spatial experience of the hall. The wholeness of light wood corresponds to the wholeness of the light filtered through the polycarbonate membrane. It is not a matter of literal similarity, but of the harmonious congruence of the haptic behaviour of materials of comparable visual vibrancy.
 
Abstraction, reduction of form and tectonic discipline are the means of discreetly distancing the hall from the environment; after all, it is first necessary to create a difference in order to recognize positions and establish a dialogue. Medprostor succeeds precisely in that balance of simultaneous belonging and non-belonging, opening new perspectives without being patronizing. Both the program and the architecture of the hall affirm the world and the time in which cooperation and competition are inextricably linked, in which personal achievements and emotions merge with the experience of collectivity.
 
Renovation of the Vrlovčnik homestead
It is in the renovation of the Vrlovčnik homestead that the issue of multi-layered time or times-in-between is explored most literally. It is about the restoration of an abandoned rural estate in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, in the Matkov kot valley, which has not yet been reached by mass tourism and which lives its own time as an enclave of traditional social and natural ecosystems. Here, Medprostor was confronted by three abandoned, rural buildings on very steep and secluded land, from where a magnificent view of dramatic mountain peaks opens up.
 
A complete freezing of traditional time is impossible, and a literal repetition of already past patterns would suggest intellectual laziness. The reason for living in the midst of the strained conditions of the mountain world is no longer necessity, but a matter of choice, a special attitude, a pleasure. Neither the plot nor the characters of this rural estate's story are the same anymore. How to intertwine several different times at once? To what extent should traditional time be identified with, in order to preserve the integrity and authenticity of living in the Alps, and to what extent should the contemporary be built into the project in order to develop a new story and so that restoration efforts make sense?
 
Medprostor combines two seemingly opposing methods. The first is forensic, almost obsessive research and recycling of the substance of existing buildings. This means an extremely thoughtful reading of the layers of walls and wooden elements by analysing their architectural and anthropological role. All strata are potentially equal, and great attention has been paid to preserving all the important traces of history. Building elements are exhibited, catalogued, restored … The rural estate is considered a cultural artefact of the highest degree. Within this spatial plot, dimensions and construction logic are protected as its key moments. The blackened fireplace and kitchen in the main residential building will remain the phenomenological core of the estate, traces of soot left by previous generations will be preserved. As will the fragile roof structure of the former outbuilding with uneven cracked beams and gaps between the boards of the façade, through which light penetrates.
 
But the whole process is experimental and open, subject to a creative reading that is not weighted by "cultural value" or the coercion of conservation. It is not a monument that is being restored, but a once living and working homestead that will take on new life. Simultaneously with the forensic work, new interventions are being prepared. After the restoration treatment of the existing substance, Medporostor confidently adds new layers and create new situations. The first new layer is the replacement of dilapidated building elements with their replicas that do not simulate antiquity but readily exhibit their newness. The second layer is the addition of completely new building volumes. All three buildings received new concrete basements at their rear, serving as static stabilization and water drainage. These underground boxes house modern service spaces that free the old buildings from secondary programs. Finally, through the removal, addition or replacement of building elements within the old buildings, new spatial situations are created. Thus, in the main building, the top of the gable becomes a glass wall, part of the wooden floor structure is opened up so that the interior of the building dissolves and the old kitchen and stove become more explicit. In the roof of the outbuilding, a sleeping unit is interpolated, a house within a house, a small bivouac in an unexpected place. The whirlpools of old and new spatial logic are emerging, within which the essence of the old is more clearly revealed.
 
An architecture emerges that passes transversally through history; in which the past and the present are at the same time autonomous and intertwined, and within which the origin and role of an individual building element are, at the same time, important and not important. This transversality of the traditional and the contemporary refers to the material substance of architecture, but also to the ways in which the homestead is inhabited. The old homestead was a circular eco-system, while the restoration project takes the lessons of tradition in order to develop new scenarios for inhabiting space whereby life takes place simultaneously in the three buildings and the open space between and around them.
 
Similar to Plečnik's works, either at the urban scale of Prague Castle or in the restoration of Slovene provincial churches, the renovation of the Vrlovčnik homestead is an assembly in which contrasts between old and new are expressed, no attempt is made to smooth or conceal transitions, and where there is also no hierarchy or domination of one layer over another. Both old and new architectural elements support each other (and in a way serve as an alibi for one another) in order to emancipate themselves from the conventional and free themselves from some traditional roles. Within the binary conditions of "completely new" or "completely old,” the poetic, spatial constellations of the Vrlovčnik homestead would not be possible.

P.S.
Medprostor is in the same measure dominated by issues of architectural language, style, picture (picturesqueness), but it seems as if it has also emancipated itself from them and has completely focused on the reality of architectural space, which is difficult to express through architectural analysis. The essential does not have to be simplified, the necessary does not have to be minimal, an organic concept does not have to be submissive to the natural environment … With metaphor and a provisional concept of time or temporality we have tried to convey the multilayeredness and existential foundation of the architecture of Medprostor.


COLOPHON
authors of exhibition: Rok Žnidaršič, Jerneja Fischer Knap, Samo Mlakar
text: Maroje Mrduljaš
slovene and english translation: Miloš Kosec
english language editor: Natasha Grand
models: Samo Mlakar, Jerneja Fischer Knap
3d preparation for models: Dino Mujić
posters: Timotej Jevšenak
processing of plans: Matija Nahtigal
photographs: Miran Kambič, Tadej Bolta, Medprostor
cut for models: Mizarstvo Pečjak Peter, SKT kovinoplastika, proizvodnja in storitve, Mizarstvo Robert Velkovrh
wood: Otmar Kugovnik
transport of wood: Cimermanstvo Irner

 

IN MEDIA
_ 18. 11. 2021: TV SLO, 8. dan, jurnalist Polona Balantič: https://www.rtvslo.si/4d/arhiv/174823720?s=tv

 

MEDPROSTOR AND TIME-IN-BETWEEN
Three projects of architectural office Medprostor
11. 10. - 17. 11. 2021

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DESSA GALLERY
Architectural center
Židovska steza 4
SI-1000 Ljubljana
 
T +386 1 25 16 010
E galerija@dessa.si
 
OPEN
Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri: 12:00-18:00
Sat, Sun, Mon, Holidays: closed


PHOTOGALLERY



Program is supported by
e_news

By entering my email address, I agree to receive e-invitations and information about the events of the Dessa Gallery and confirm that I am aware of personal data protection policy.