Architecture is an art which is part of our everyday life and regardless of where we live, we are in contact with its various manifestations on a daily basis. There are certain instances which stand out from the average and catch attention for a number of reasons. In May, Zavod BIG honoured just those.
“Zavod BIG is a driving force of Slovenian creativity and a centre (and part) of creative industries in the region. It has an international and interdisciplinary focus,” says its Director, Zmago Novak. One of its main activities is an annual, one month “Big Architecture” festival, a part of which is also a “Houses of the World” exhibition, which this year is held in one of Ljubljana most attractive locations - Kongresni trg.
Quality on Display
The exhibition showcases a selection of the 45 most beautiful houses from all around the world from the last two years. It establishes a cross-section through global, individual house production and exposes different modes of living in a variety of environments, traditions and cultures. The exhibition raises public awareness that thoroughly thinking through construction of any house is a necessity. Moreover, it affirms that quality residential architecture is possible at different sites and with different starting points. “We wish to more directly bring residential architecture closer to people,” they say at Zavod Big and the exhibition, with awards for the best projects, is one of their strategies.
The Hiše Award ceremony was part of the opening of the exhibition in the white pavilion at Kongresni trg. Two of the projects were chosen, from among all of the exhibited houses, by an international jury. The question this year, which influenced the jury’s selection of the winners, was the elusive “What is a good house?”. The Excellence in Innovation Award 2012 went to the Spanish H Arquitectes studio for their 712 House project and their intriguingly creative solution to the given minimum financial investment. The Glass House project from the Swedish studio, Unit Arkitektur AB, was awarded the Excellence in Sustainability Award 2012 due to the original realisation of a house in the heart of the Scandinavian landscape without any energy, style or price excesses.
Platform for Discussion
The awards were given by Janez Koželj, Deputy Mayor of Ljubljana and an architect himself, who also opened the event. “Today it is extremely difficult to define the measures of what is good. Hence we need to discuss quality time and time again,” whilst also stressing the growing responsibilities of an architect. “The foundation of every project is to think globally and act locally. The hierarchy of the values has turned round – we are now dealing with issues of affecting the environment which should be as minimal as possible.” For him, good architecture is a responsible, problem-solving one which is directed toward the end-user.
The event also hosted an edition of Stage 180˙, a unique series of short, provocative performances by seven lecturers, presenting their answers to “What is a good house?” The hosted architects, including the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Peter Gabrijelčič, touched upon the topics of beauty, the notion of something being good, the definition of a higher standard of living, marketing, sustainability and the ethical stance of an architect, offering a diversity of experiences, opinions, questions and ideas.
According to Novak, the festival holds great significance for Slovenia and its architecture scene as it “proves that architectural judgement and attitude towards architecture in Slovenia are at a very high level. We need to be aware that Slovenia is too small to be built by inappropriate objects. This smallness and sensibility are a prerequisite for unencumbered and competent judgement in the world of architecture – fitted to people and space as the exhibition highlights. At the same time, the other part of the festival, the international architecture conference at Gospodarsko razstavišče, spreads the idea that the sunny side of the Alps is the place to come for knowledge, the right measures and new ideas.”