Amongst the participants at last year’s jubilee 30th meeting of architects in Piran, Slovenia, was architect Heinz Tesar, who had already presented a lecture in Piran way back in 1986, and since then has always been connected with this town, at least symbolically. This is partly why he was happy to talk about Piran, his work, architecture, painting, lecturing, etc. We thus asked him for an interview for the present edition of the Piranesi magazine, as he is a representative of an older generation of Viennese architects, having graduated with Professor Ronald Rainer and embarked on his independent creative path in the 1970s. This path abounds with high-quality architecture set in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, etc., while his most recent work will soon be constructed in Italy. His is also a path on which architecture intertwines with painting, as Heinz Tesar is a master of sketching, which he uses to illustrate his vision of a future work of architecture.

BTV City Forum 2001-06,
Innsbruck, Austria
Aquarelle 2002
Sketch by Heinz Tesar

For the cover of the present Piranesi magazine, we have selected an interesting multi-purpose building from Budapest, built in the early 1950s and based on the principles of Modernism and the then socialist social order. This is architecture that, in an adapted way, follows the five basic postulates of Le Corbusier, which strongly influenced the entire history of 20th century architecture. Incidentally, we have a similar (albeit smaller) representative example of a Modernist building in Slovenia: Kozolec in Ljubljana by architect Edo Mihevc. Whereas a group of Hungarian architects at the time managed to create a true Modernist masterpiece, the discreet renovation of Dutch architects fifty years later has returned the former glory to the building, while a new additional programme has been placed in the basement, creating a distance between the new and the respected old.

In addition to older works of architecture, we also present contemporary Slovene architecture through the wooden, low-energy youth hostel in Ravne and the home for the elderly in Idrija. This issue also features a presentation of Slovene design, focusing this time on interior design by architect Primož Jeza. These interiors, in all of their excellence, have unfortunately already succumbed to the economic logic of changing content in a relatively short time-span. This practice does, of course, result in our understanding an interior as the ephemeral story of an internal space, only rarely remaining untouched over a longer period of time. One of the stories close to our hearts, where an interior lives a similar, untouched existence, is the interior of the American Bar or Kärntner Bar – recently been renamed the Loos Bar – where one can relive the time from the beginning of the 20th century in Vienna.

The architecture of neighbouring countries is represented by articles on the rather reserved renovation and new construction of a building in Vienna, where an architect, with all due attention, has positioned a new programme in a Viennese quarter, while in the countryside of Zagorje, Croatia, an architect has erected a holiday house that represents a contemporary paraphrase of former single-storey houses with a thatched roof typical of the region. A somewhat older work comes from Italy – the design for Terminal Nord in Udine by architects Gregotti Associati – while in the case of the renovation of the Serrenissima Palace in Milan the new means a connection of the new with the old. An example from the Czech Republic can be found in the article on the design of a new secondary school by architect Roman Koucky, who seeks his inspiration in the Czech Modernism of the 1920s.

What is it that connects all of these different projects? An attitude towards space, an attitude towards the current state of affairs, towards the history, skills and knowledge already present in a given space. How can the new be positioned within the old? How can new, and in most cases expanded, needs be combined with the existing? How can contemporary architecture be created in an idyllic countryside setting? The answer to all of these questions can be summed up in one word – context. As Heinz Tesar also said in his interview: “I believe, of course, that without context all of these works are only products to be deposited or sold. Architecture without context is unrelated production.”