The Slovenia Times

Kolizej - The Vision



The story of Kolizej began in 1845, when the Austrian architect and industrialist J. B. Withalm constructed the complex in an old gravel yard near the city's centre. Although it was primarily used for military purposes, its rich social activity made Kolizej the centre of public life in Ljubljana in the second half of the 19th century. In the 1880's, the building was transformed into apartments for the city's poorest inhabitants. After the Second World War, Kolizej was nationalized and ownership was passed onto the City of Ljubljana, which continued to use the building for welfare apartments and some craft activities. Because of its significant characteristics, in 1993, the City declared Kolizej a cultural monument of local significance. In the process of denationalization (1999), the building was returned to the original owners and eventually sold to the present Kolizej d.o.o. (the former Prevent Invest) in 2003. The company's first attempt to realize the idea of a new Kolizej came to nothing due to a lack of money and some other urban obstacles. Then a survey, prepared by the Slovenian Civil Engineering Institute and the Ljubljana Public Institute, deemed the building unsuitable for habitation and the company offered the residents of Kolizej alternative accommodation. The company then invited renowned foreign architects to tender and formed a jury composed of experts, professors and representatives of the city's community. The jury selected a submission from the Netherlands (Neutelings Riedijk architects), which according to the words of the jury, "suited the complex urban situation in many aspects". The new plan for the complex combines contemporaneousness, attractiveness and multifunctionalism. The 25-storey building, with three towers and a glass hall, would serve as a venue for public-cultural events, shopping and fun, business and residence. It will also contain logistical and public parking areas. When completed, this project will move the centre of cultural activities in Ljubljana to the northern part of the city, which will offer new opportunities for further urban development. Despite the positive prognosis for the project, some experts have doubts about the adequacy of the location. According to art historian, Dejan Prelovsek, the winning design is good, but the location is unsuitable: the building is intolerably high for this location. Criticism also came from Breda Mihelic (Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia), who claims that the 1993 Natural and Cultural Heritage decree, which foresees the renovation of Kolizej rather than its demolition, is still valid. This, of course, means that if Kolizej d.o.o. wants to begin construction, it will have to have the decree modified. However, EUR 12 million has already been spent, with another 150 million waiting in the bank, - enough to begin the construction of the building, which, if everything goes as planned, should be completed in 2009.


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