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Entrance canopy to the open air sports ground at the Tivoli Park

In Ljubljana, the construction of railway underpasses began in 1961. At that time, the railway line was moved deeper towards Tivoli Park and two important architectural buildings were demolished: the Jakopič Pavilion by architect Maks Fabiani (1908) and the entrance canopy to the open air sports ground by architect Jože Plečnik.

park Tivoli, Ljubljana

Architect: Jože Plečnik

Assistant: Gizela Šuklje

Constructed in: 1933

For a detailed view of the canopy, spin the 3D model

The area of the open air sports ground at the Tivoli Park was leased by the Sokol gymnastics society and was initially rented out for an amusement park. The society had a gymnasium in the National Hall (today's National Gallery), but it was too small, and they also needed an open air sports ground. This was planned to be constructed in the former amusement park area, together with a Sokol Hall. Plečnik's student Gizela Šuklje, a member of the Sokol society, forwarded the order to Plečnik, and in 1931 also started drawing plans. However, by the following year, the society had spent the funds on the renovation of the existing gym in the National Hall and the decision was made to build only the open air sports ground. Plečnik designed the wall, the entrance canopy and the stands. The construction of the wall and the canopy began in 1933, and the work was completed in August 1934, when a festival of Slavic national costumes was held at the stadium

The mighty canopy stood on six pillars of Podpeč limestone. Concave concrete beams rested on the pillars, and oak slats supported the copper roof. Concrete lights stood next to the pillars. The canopy roof seemed to be made of fabric, but in reality it was made of hard materials. In Ljubljana, Plečnik also designed a similar canopy in front of the chapel at Žale. When the railway line was moved in 1961 due to the construction of underpasses, the fence and canopy were demolished together with Fabiani's Jakopič pavilion.

The more widely known Plečnik’s stadium in Ljubljana was designed for the Catholic gymnastics society Orli. We unwittingly associate the plan with the architect’s deep faith, and it seems to us that this is the reason why he would not work for the rival, liberal association of Sokol. In doing so, we forget that Plečnik was first and foremost an architect who wanted to build buildings and therefore never bound himself to one political or other option that would prevent him from receiving work orders. Thus, he worked for the rich Viennese classes, for the Czech president Masaryk, the Yugoslav king Alexander and also for the post-war president Tito. It is true that there are many letters in which Plečnik refuses assignments, saying that he is too old, too sick or too busy, but they should be understood more in the sense of "if they really want me, they will contact me again". Thus, Plečnik also cooperated with the Sokol society. He made several plans for it, but most of them remained on paper. According to his plans, only the wall and the entrance to the sports ground in Tivoli were built, and even these were demolished in 1961, when the railway line was moved due to the construction of underpasses on Dunajska and Celovška Street.

Aerial view of the sports ground.

On the right side, the current course of the railway line can be seen. On the far right is the construction site of the Orthodox church, and below, Plečnik's playground with freshly planted trees. Next to the gym there is the Ilirija swimming pool, and on the left side the former Velesejem fair grounds.

Implementation plan of the open air sports ground, made by the Municipal Building Office.

Below, the railway. On the right, the Ilirija swimming pool, and on the left, the former Tivoli cinema can be seen. The Sokol Hall was to be built there according to Plečnik's plans. The wall is on the upper side next to two tree-lined alleys, the entrance canopy is at the intersection. The stands, also designed by Plečnik, were to be built near the entrance. In the axis, next to the railway, there is a semi-circular music pavilion, which had been there before, but later burned down.

Implementation plan of the wall, made by the Municipal Building Office.

Built along the tree-lined alleys, the wall had prefabricated concrete frames with openings. The lower part was lined with stones. The openings to the left and right of the entrance canopy had a niche that served as a ticket booth. In the lower right part of the picture, there is a plan of a simpler wall along the railway line.

Text: Andrej Hrausky

Archive material:

Documentation of MGML/Plečnik collection

Source: Hrausky, Andrej. Plečnikova arhitektura v Ljubljani, MGML, Galerija Dessa, Ljubljana, 2017

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