30 November 2004. Matevz Celik from TrajekT wrote an update about the Kolizej centre in Ljubljana (Slovenia) by Neutelings Riedijk.
In Ljubljana we follow lively discussions on the project for nearly a month now. There is a problem, quite characteristic for Slovenia lately, which might be fatal for this project as well. The masterplans of Slovenian cities are mostly about 20 years old. The same is in Ljubljana. Cities after the political change gave up planning with an excuse that we have to wait for new laws. In this time it was allowed to adapt the old masterplans.
Developers in last decade got used to a dirty habit: First they buy land which they find interesting, then they do a project and at last they go to the city authorities demanding to adapt the masterplan to their project. The same is happening with Kolizej centre. The competition demands had no firm background in the city documents for this area and that's only one of the reasons why there's a lot of opposition to the project. Because changing the masterplan involves public opinion, developer started an aggressive advertising campaign, trying to influence on the citizens, city councillors and the mayor. But for some people this was just another reason to oppose the project.
One of the big problems of the project is that it is located on the site of an extraordinary interesting Austro-Hungarian military building (Kolizej), a special typology which is the only one of its kind still standing in Europe. Many would like to keep it and reconstruct it for other use. Another problem is the height. Most of the people in Ljubljana agree that the city needs more tall buildings. But they also agree that planting towers within the structure of 19 th century city were the mistakes of socialist urban planning in the 60ies and 70ies. On the other side combining 25 floor business tower with a quarter of 19th century villas was quite a problem for the competition participants as well.
Anyhow in general people would like to see Neutelings working in Ljubljana, because this would be the first architect coming into the city from abroad. Also the architects in Ljubljana feel that the practice in Slovenia desperately needs this kind of refreshments.
But at the end decisions of city politicians about changing the Ljubljana masterplan for this project will be fatal.