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Maks Fabiani

"The most important element in the understanding of the architectural expression is the reality of its forms." (Maks Fabiani)

Fabiani was the first architect of his era who held a Ph.D. in urban planning. He was a university professor in Vienna, architect, landscape architect, painter, writer, innovator, humanist, traveller, politician and visionary. At the Technical University of Vienna, he was a student, graduate and close associate of professor Otto Wagner. He was a personal art consultant of Franz Ferdinand, the crown prince of the then Habsburg Monarchy. He conceived the first regulatory plan for the reconstruction of post-earthquake Ljubljana at the end of the 19th century, which was later followed by Plečnik. Fabiani’s most important work in the field of landscape architecture is the design of the Ferrari Garden in Štanjel na Krasu.

Very notable also are Fabiani’s visionary views on architecture, the pressing issues of the time and the new organisation of post-war society, which are preserved in his philosophical work Acma – Soul of the World (Thoughts on Life and Art, 1946). Unfortunately, the text has been preserved only in fragments. It was published in Slovenian translation by the Max Fabiani Foundation in 1999.

Fabiani’s works can be found in Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Poland and Croatia.

Jože Plečnik

(23 January 1872, Ljubljana, Slovenia–7 January 1957, Ljubljana, Slovenia)

"If a man is making a building, it should contain such an idea that it makes him tremble." (Jože Plečnik)

Plečnik was an Honorary Doctor of the Technical University of Vienna. Although his roots stemmed from the Karst, he was a man of Ljubljana. He co-founded the Ljubljana School of Architecture between the two world wars. Plečnik was passionate about outstanding artistic achievement, clear ground plans, hidden symbolism and architecture as Gesamtkunstwerk.

In his father’s workshop, he trained as a cabinet maker and continued his education at in Graz, where he trained as a furniture designer and a cabinet maker. He enrolled in the Technical University of Vienna and became, like Fabiani, a student of Otto Wagner. The Vienna period brought the first major recognition of the architect’s work, which encouraged him to apply for the post of professor and Wagner’s successor. Unfortunately, he was not selected, so in 1911 he accepted an invitation to become a professor at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague. While in the Czech Republic, Plečnik met Tomaš G. Masaryk, who commissioned an ambitious art project after the end of the World War I – the renovation of the presidential residence and the new arrangement of the gardens at Hradčany Castle in Prague.

After returning to Ljubljana, he became a professor at the newly established Department of Architecture in the Technical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana. Together with his students, he immediately started work on regulatory and urban regeneration plans for Ljubljana, in which he often drew on Fabiani’s designs.  He used his own architectural creations to enhance the existing city layouts and, with his carefully thought-out interventions – from bridges over the Ljubljanica River to new arrangements of streets and parks – he ultimately transformed the city into a true capital with baroque and Viennese Secession features.

Plečnik was made an honorary citizen of Ljubljana. He received the Order of the National Merit and the first Prešeren Award in the field of architecture.

His works can be found throughout Slovenia and in Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Serbia.

Ivan Vurnik

(1 June 1884, Radovljica, Slovenia–8 April 1971, Radovljica, Slovenia)

"It is extremely important for an architect to learn to grasp the essence of perfection of human life." (Ivan Vurnik)

Vurnik’s roots were in the arts and crafts tradition: he grew up in a stonemason’s family. After completing secondary school, he went to study architecture in Vienna under the supervision of Professors König and Mayreder. On Fabiani’s recommendation, Vurnik attended advanced training in Wagner’s studio for a year and later became Fabiani’s associate. As a co-founder of the Department of Architecture at the Technical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, together with Plečnik, he laid the foundations of pedagogical bases and approaches to teaching architecture and urban planning.

Vurnik devoted a large part of his research and artistic work to the search for the Slovenian national style (i.e. national romanticism). On the other hand, he wanted to abandon the traditions of historicism and even Art Nouveau and create a new language of design and architecture characteristic of the Slovenian nation.

The turning point in his creative work was the exhibition of decorative art in Paris (1925), where he was disappointed with the presentation of Slovenian art (within the then Yugoslav section), mainly due to the insufficient number of selected works. Visiting the exhibition supposedly made Vurnik turn from architectural decorativism to functionalism.

Upon his retirement in 1957, he had an extensive retrospective exhibition in Vienna. A few years later, the council of the Technical University of Vienna awarded him the Prechtl Medal. In Slovenia, he received the highest recognition for achievements in art – the Prešeren Lifetime Achievements Award.