Postcard of Plecnik's computer . . . er, tools
Jože Plecnik's home

Jože Plecnik. .During the early 1900's, Art Nouveau was in vogue and cities like Prague and Vienna as well as many other cities across Europe. The first name that anyone mentions when discussing the Art Nouveau in Ljubljana is Jože Plecnik. Jože Plecnik's Ljubljana was a treasure trove of unique architecture. I visited Plecnik's home to get the low-down. After time in Italy, Vienna, and Prague, he eventually came back to transform his home town of Ljubljana. Along the way, he dabbled in Art Nouveau but eventually developed his own style with a lot of classical influences including plenty of columns and pyramids.


a Plecnik statue

It was incredible to stroll around his office and see the tools that he used to create his works. Amazing to think how things have changed since he died fifty years ago. I don't think architects (nor I) would easily survive without computers. While on the way to his home, I passed the National and University Library. My first thought was, "What a horrible piece of architecture!" I had all sorts of different kinds of stone used on the façade. Then, I found out that this eyesore was one of Plecnik's masterpieces. Well, there was planning and symbolism behind the ugliness. The odd sizes and shapes represented the barriers faced along the path to knowledge. The entrance was dark like an Egyptian tomb, leading upstairs to the library (that was supposed to be bright and airy, but only students were allowed to enter.) My favorite part of the whole building was the matching Pegasus door handles, ready to whisk those seeking wisdom to higher levels of enlightenment.


Pegasus door handle
National & University Library

Plecnik touches were all over the city. He designed the colonnade beside the outdoor market, the Fountain of the Three Carolinian Rivers in front of the town hall, the obelisk commemorating Napoleon in French Revolution Square, the Triple Bridge and smaller bridge near his home, and the embankment along the Ljubjaníca River. Even the trees along the embankment (poplars and willows) were selected by Plecnik to match the spires and domes of Prague. There were other architects in Ljubljana. You just didn't hear much about them and they barely made any guidebooks.


Copyright 2008 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.