National and University Library, Ljubljana : Jože Plečnik


National and University Library, Ljubljana : Jože Plečnik

Mel Gooding

(Architecture in detail)

Phaidon, 1997


National and University Library, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1936-9 : architect: Joze Plecnik

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Photography: Mark Fiennes

Drawings: Mark Mušič



The Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, where architect Plecnik spent the latter part of his life, is the backdrop for some of his most ambitious schemes. Of these, the most monumental is the National and University Library, which ingeniously combines topographical features and cultural symbolism. Typical Plecnik features include the long colonnade in dark stone on either side of the central staircase which leads to a reading room that fills the entire width of one wing of the building. Contrasted with this is the powerful, expressive street elevation which only partly relates to activities inside the building. This facade was designed to replace one of Ljubljana's most handsome early Baroque palaces and is representative of Plecnik's most eccentric mannerist style. The author explores the building and its historical context, providing an account of the construction of the library and of Plecnik's urban designs for the city of Ljubljana, redeveloped in the interwar years. The photographs of the library are complemented by further images of key Plecnik works and drawings are provided by Slovenian architect Marko Music, commissioned to design an annex to the library.

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