Town and Memory

The new ante-chamber of the city wall in Škofja Loka connects the town with its natural context and stories from its past

Photo: Virginia Vrecl

Photo: Virginia Vrecl

Photo: Virginia Vrecl

Photo: Virginia Vrecl

Photo: Virginia Vrecl

Photo: Virginia Vrecl

“In vain, great-hearted Kublai, shall I attempt to describe Zaira, city of high bastions. /…/ A description of Zaira as it is today should contain all of Zaira’s past. The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.” This is how Italo Calvino writes about the town and its memory. “The city,” he says, “does not consist of this, but of relationships between the measurements of its space and the events of its past.”

(translated by William Weaver)

The renovation of urban spaces is a sensitive task requiring that architects show a lot of empathy towards the past. At the same time, they must have the courage and responsibility to bring to the surface the highest-quality urban layers, contexts, and stories from the sediments of time. Bringing them together into a new synchronised whole can make the whole urban space more readable, harmonious, more pedestrian-friendly, but above all it may create a new, more genuine dialogue between the town and the lives within it. Škofja Loka has preserved its medieval structure. The historical layers exist one next to another and form a diverse network of public spaces, from the Capuziner Bridge, past the Ursuline monastery, to Cankar Square with St. Jacob’s Church, the Town Square and Lontrg, right up to the Granary and the Loka Castle. The town even preserved the clarity of its perimeter, where one can still discern the remains of the city walls, destroyed almost completely back in 1789, which used to have five towers and five entrances into the city. The comprehensive reconstruction of the open public spaces in the historic centre of Škofja Loka and the embankments of both Sora rivers dates back to 2013.  A part of this process is the new layout for the area Beneath the Castle Square, which forms the south entrance into the historic city centre from the Poljanska Valley, with the still visible remains of the city door and the walls, climbing towards the Loka Castle.

The complete article is published in Autumn 2018 issue of Piranesi No. 40/Vol. 26.

Project Data

architectural office: Ravnikar Potokar arhitekturni biro d.o.o.
architecture: Robert Potokar, Primož Žitnik, Ajdin Bajrović
landscape architecture and graphics: Tanja Simonič Korošak
competition: 2013, 1. nagrada za ureditev javnih površin mesta Škofje Loke / 2013, 1 prize for urban landscape of Škofja Loka town
projects: 2015-2017
contractor: Lesnina MG
client: Municipality of Škofja Loka
opening: 9 September 2017