Recreating Memory – Transformation of the Main Square (Glavni trg) in Novo Mesto into a poetic legacy for the common future

Architecture is a factor which goes beyond a mere spatial solution. Upon careful consideration, the communicative value of the space emerges in the form of the new opportunities it offers.  

Photo: Sonja VlašičPhoto: Sonja Vlašič

The old city centre of Novo Mesto features a number of quality historical spatial interventions, such as the sculptures Hostage and Song to Freedom which – together with the memorial loggia to the National Liberation Front – create the On the Gates  (Na vratih) spatial solution designed in 1953 by the architect Marjan Mušič and the sculptor Jakob Savinšek. Also important is the memorial on the spot where two partisans, Franc Janc and Alojz Hacin, were hung in the most humiliating manner. The memorial is symbolically low – it illustrates the height of the gallows, which were so low that the two men’s legs had to be tied to their bodies to prevent them from touching the ground. Then follow the arcades of the atrium houses, the Town Hall, and the marble fountain designed by Mušič with an engraved poem by Dragotin Kette, which replaced the former cast-iron fountain. The view then follows the Kandijski Bridge to rest on the hill of Grm.

Before, these gestures and existing interventions by Mušič never stood a chance to form a quality space together, and the city centre was far from offering such a space to all its users. The spatial chaos and complete subordination of the city centre to road traffic entirely outweighed the fundamental function of the square: to provide an outstanding, open common space.

ATELIERarhitekti approached the task with the desire to re-establish the spatial hierarchy on the square – an ambition so far unattainable due to the differing levels and the surface of the road. However, once the square became a traffic-free zone, the spatial order, citizens and cultural activities regained priority. In the new spatial arrangement, they obtained their place, while the smaller ambiences promote new ideas of spatial use.

Photo: Peter Žunič Fabjančič

Photo: Peter Žunič Fabjančič

The complete article is published in Autumn 2020 issue of Piranesi No. 42-43/Vol. 28.

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Project Data

Municipality of Novo mesto

Year of project

Year of completion

1st prize in public competition

Jurij Kobe, Nataša Blažko, Maja Kovačič, Tanja Paulin, Peter Plantan, Urša Podlipnik

ACER d.o.o., UTRIS d.o.o.

8400 m²