Client: Municipality of Ljubljana
Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Construction: 2015 - 2017
Design team: Ana Kučan, Ana Tepina, Mojca Kumer
Photos: Studio AKKA archives, Matej Pušnik
One part of the renovation of the old Hotel Tivoli, built between 1908 and 1910 by a renowned Austro-Hungarian architect Ciril Metod Koch, also called Švicarija (a Swiss Chalet) due to its alpine-style architecture, is its former terrace with a view towards the city.
Within the current conditions and low-maintenance requirements it was impossible to reconstruct the flowerbeds on the slopes, which surrounded the terrace. Hence the new design of the terrace is a citation, a reference to the specific times in which Švicarija was built. Therefore the planting design on the one hand follows the Anglo-Saxon thematic garden of the late 19th century (i.e. the White garden of Sissinghurst by Victoria Sackville-West) and, on the other, the Viennese model of a geometric garden and artificially trimmed trees (Franc Lebisch’s gardens), which generally influenced the gardens in Tivoli Park. The all-white blooming plants are organized in flower beds seemingly floating within the gravel plane while actually forming the invisible grid of one of the many floral Secession patterns.
Extensive terrace, placed at the point where the Tivoli Park meets the urban forest of Rožnik, creates an intriguingly large open space. Extending in front of the ornamented alpine architecture with great trees rising behind it, the terrace lies in bold contrast to its forest covered borders. The flowerbeds articulate and soften the openness of the terrace. The stairs, leading to Švicarija from the Tivoli castle, used to hit the terrace between two pavilions connected with a wooden pergola. In order to re-open the vista to the distant castle on top of Ljubljana, the pavilions are translated into the asymmetrically placed seating platforms facing back towards the building. The reconstruction of the large and tall light posts was possible due to the many postcards from Švicarija, preserved in the National and University library. Six posts form an axis extending straight out of the building and colliding with the direction of the view towards the castle, This represented a formal problem of colliding geometries resolved by a juxtaposition of the axis and the flowerbeds.
However, the renovated terrace will at least partially revive the coffee-shop culture of the turn of the century Ljubljana which is part of Švicarija’s intangible cultural heritage. One the other hand, more intimated spaces behind the flowerbeds set a gentle reminder of the days when the terrace was a picturesquely overgrown garden of the artists who lived there for quite some years. A strolling over the terrace from the forest towards the city therefore provides an interplay of the open and the bright with an open view and of the more enclosed perspectives between the flowerbeds and seating platforms, which turn the gaze back to the Švicarija and the forest behind it.
Mr. Zoran Jankovič, the Mayor of Ljubljana, has opened the renovated Švicarija in Tivoli to the public and handed it to MGLC – the International Centre of Graphic Arts.