The Slovenia Times

Bled soon to welcome Chipperfield-designed museum

CultureInvestment & Real Estate

Celebrated for its picturesque lake, islet and a castle perched on a rocky cliff, Bled will broaden its appeal further next year by adding a contemporary art museum designed by the award-winning British architect David Chipperfield.

Founded by Igor and Mojca Lah, one of the wealthiest Slovenians, Lah Contemporary will feature works by internationally acclaimed artists that the couple have been collecting for three decades.

Located below Bled Castle, €25 million museum will be Chipperfield's first building in this part of Europe.

The investors asked this year's Pritzker Architecture Prize winner to design a building that will incorporate well into the space, without overshadowing Bled Castle. They also asked him to design the rooms around some of the artworks.

"Once we started planning the museum, the first dilemma was whether Sonnenschiff, the sculpture by Anselm Kiefer, should be displayed inside or outside," Igor Lah said as he took local officials on a tour of the construction side recently.

Despite proposals to the contrary, Lah insisted that the sculpture should be placed inside the building where it could function as a work of art and could be protected against the elements.

One of the museum's rooms is designed around this particular sculpture. It has already been placed into the museum while construction work continues around it.

The Lahs find it very important how the show pieces will function in the museum. After the museum had been designed, the couple bought another installation, by Ilya Kabakov, the late Russian artist, and the project had to be changed to include the piece into the museum. This resulted in a six-month delay.

Goran Juvan, head of the project, said the building appeared very discrete despite its large volume. Spanning 7,000 gross square metres and a 5,000 net square metre area, it features 3,500 square metres of exhibition space.

Built of exposed concrete, it gives away one of Chipperfield's distinctive features right away. "We have a concrete facade, and the thermal insulation is on the inside," Juvan said. The rooms "have to be visually very appealing, finished to the detail and functional".

The building will also feature a concert hall seating up to 100 people. "It will be the first specifically designed hall after Cankarjev Dom to ensure optimal acoustics," said Juvan, referring to the Ljubljana cultural centre.

The museum will show about 150 works at one time and displays will change twice a year. The pieces on show will be selected by curators among some 800 works from the Lah collection.

One of the aims of the museum is to become an educational centre, to offer art courses and workshops.

Lah expects the construction to be completed by the end of this year or early the next. Once they get the operating permit, they need another half a year to display the works, some of which are very complex. The museum is slatted for opening in the autumn next year.


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