It is on a section of an architect's parcours through Plečnik's Ljubljana, between the famous embankments of the Ljubljanica river and the national library, that the Croatian architect Nenad Fabijanić has shaped a gallery and barroom in a Settecento house. Through his creation, the architect has brought into the Central European atmosphere of the city a breath of the Mediterranean, which is not altogether alien to it because the Mediterranean cultural circle served as a constant source of inspiration for Plečnik, as well.
Only some ten meters away from the gallery, there is an entrance into a small barroom, descending four steps below the pavement. Several minimized external signals: an onyx console-shield above the entrance, a monolith-barrier of black marble (of an oval profile) before it, a protective console with a polished Inox-steel cross-section… indicate to the passers-by that something special and pecious may be disclosed behind the floor fitted with glass.
In a minimum of volume, design and space-related values are concentrated there, fully autonomous, yet the architect is simultaneously aware of the immediate vicinity of Plečnik's library. At daytime, as well as by night, the fact that the barroom belongs to the kingdom of the night is clearly demonstrated: by the black colour of Nero Marquin marble, in contrast with the shiny, ochre-gold „mask“ of the walls and ceilings, the floor lit with spotlights to make walking over it in the dark safe, illuminated niches.
Central entrance walls are „clad“ in black marble only up to the height of the bar counter, whereas above that height, in all of the room, the recognizable, load-bearing structure of the house is left untouched, with its barrel and cross vaults from the 18th century, now coated with 14 layers of paint.
The archaic nature of the central, vaulted space is stressed by a glistening stalactite of opal glass, hanging from the ceiling, reminiscent of the protectiveness of a cave shelter.
The guests of the bar may hang around its counter stretching along the walls, whose marble „wainscot“ ends up in a marble shelf fot glasses, or they can choose to seclude themselves into a more private room in the basement, with a table whose surface are two eccentric elipses, and the walls of the recess are covered with black leather, a warm organic material for leaning one's body against.
The private room is determined by two niches vis-à-vis one another, which hold a glass spiral as the source of light, and by a round onyx window that filtered daily light can pass through.
The same as with the rest of his interiors, the architect Fabijanić has paid equal attention to the toilets as to all of the rooms. Acces to the toilets of this particular barroom is provided through a courtyard porch.
The continuity of space is taken care of by means of pieces of transparent glass above each of the two entrances, so that the perspective of the vaults can be seen at a glance.
The two toilets are separated by a Inox-partition holding a metal tube od round profile- a Semperian metaphor of the skeleton of primaeval lodgings.
As concerns the design of the gallery and the sales area and, especially, the architect's treatment of the precious sequences of the barroom, his commitment to the tradition of Central Europe, along the Semper-Wagner-Loos-Plečnik line comes to the fore, yet it is only a starting point for the architect's creative course producing adventurous deiscoveries of his very own.
text: Vera Grimmer