Post-event report | Prague - Maruša Zorec: Unveiling the Hidden15.11.2021
On Monday, 15 November 2021, the Slovenian architect Maruša Zorec gave the first talk in the lecture series November Talks 2021 at the Faculty of Architecture at the Czech Technical University in Prague. This year’s November Talks, because of medical reasons, had to delay the originally planned opening lecture by Alison Brooks from its assigned date of 8 November, and thus will continue until 6 December 2021. Yet, after a year’s interruption, Prague is once again playing host to important, internationally known personalities in the architectural field, this time under the wider theme of Taking Risks. About the Art of Creating a Material World.
Maruša Zorec was born in 1965 and graduated from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Ljubljana, where since 1993 she has also worked as an instructor. She collaborated with Vojteh Ravnikar, a significant influence on her perception of architecture, has had her own practice since 1992, and in 1999 co-founded the collective of architects ARREA arhitektura with Matjaž Bolčina, Tadej Bolta, Mark Koritnik, Uroš Rustja, Katja Saje, Martina Tepina, Aleksi Vičič and Maša Živec. She has received many national awards, such as the Prešeren Prize for the project ‘Grajska pristava’, the Plečnik Prize for the Open Air Altar in Brezje or the Piranesi Prize for the renovation of Plecnik House in 2016 among others. Architectural historian Luka Skansi describes her work as projects “in which the memory of earlier architecture is reduced to its key principles, basic ideas, images, materials, spaces. We can speak of a history of re-structuralising, which receives its new meaning only in contact, in coexistence, with the new intervention via the process of selecting and designing.”
In her November lecture in Prague, Maruša Zorec first defined the main themes of her work, which she also demonstrated two years previously at the Venice Architecture Biennale: most prominently, freedom, silence, light, space in between, story, place, layers, concept, transitions and horizon. Zorec presented these themes as well in the example of her project for restoration of the fortifications on Castle Hill on the ‘Šance’ promenade designed by the most famous Slovenian architect, Jože Plečnik. In the next section of her lecture, she presented five original projects – the Franciscan Chapel (1996), the Square and Open Air Altar before the basilica of Mary Help in Brezje (2004–2008), where she initially had to address the question of where to put the new open air altar not to destroy the value of this space; the third presented project was the renovation of the Outer Keep in Ormož – Archaeological Ethnographic Museum and Music School (2009–2011), the fourth the renovation of Hotel Švicarija (2013–2017) and finally, the most extensively presented project was the renovation of the Plečnik House in Ljubljana (2013–2015), a project interesting as well for its involving primarily women as participants.
Regarding the thematic question of the greatest risk in her architectural work, Maruša Zorec reacted with a question of the risk of how far to go if it is a question of respect for the client and respect for oneself: “Working just for business, I do not believe that. I think it is possible to do something good for the space, for the places, where we live, and for the people, who inhabit our places.”
Immediately in response, she added the ever-present question of risk of whether people and users would feel free within the space she designed, able to be themselves – specifying her response with the first-presented project of the Chapel, where, as a non-believer, she continually asked herself whether she was able to design and create an atmosphere within space that Christian believers would seek out.
Maruša Zorec set an extremely high standard for this year’s November Talks 2021, and brought to Prague a sense of truthfulness, elegance, and deep commitment to the courage to take risks in one of the most complicated matters of architectural creation – in unveiling the hidden.
Author: Veronika Kastlová
You can download the high-resolution images here.
The follow-up reports, also from the other locations, will also be made available to you gradually. You will then find these data under the following link.
You can find a short interview with Maruša Zorec on our YouTube channel.