The Slovenia Times

Maks Fabiani Remembered on 150th Birth Anniversary


Fabiani, a representative of the Vienna Secession, is often seen as a rather neglected Slovenian architect, which is being attributed to his national and political affiliations.

According to Andrej Harusky, an expert on Fabiani's work, he was a "typical product of the multicultural and multinational Austrian-Hungarian Empire".

He was born in the village of Kobdilj near Štanjel (SW Slovenia) to a respectable family of mixed nationalities.

His father's mother was born in Trieste, while his mother's family had ties in Vienna reaching all the way to the Habsburg dynasty.

They spoke German at home until the Second World War, but they were all also fluent in Italian, Slovenian and Croatian.

In the 20th century, when nationality became important, he was rejected by all those nations. Slovenians considered him Italian due to his Fascist affiliations, Austrians rejected him due to his favouring of Slovenian artists, while Italians resented him for his contacts with the Austrian court.

After finishing architecture studies in Vienna in 1888, Fabiani worked as an architecture professor and in the bureau of the architect Otto Wagner (1841-1918).

After the devastating earthquake in Ljubljana in 1895 he volunteered to draw up a zoning law for renovation of the city centre free of charge.

He was assigned to major projects such as Mladika, the current seat of the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, which used to be a girls' secondary school.

He also designed the Narodni dom cultural centre in Trieste, which later became a stronghold of the Slovenian minority in Italy and was burnt down by Fascists in 1920.

According to Hrausky, Fabiani was the architect in charge of the main national projects. His key works in Ljubljana also include Prešeren Square, the Miklošič Park and the Hribar House from 1903, he designed for the mayor.

In 1902, Fabiani obtained an honorary doctorate and was named councillor to Franz Ferdinand for architecture and art history. He later taught architecture in Vienna, before moving to Gorizia, Italy, in 1917 for another teaching post.

Between 1935 and 1945 he served as the mayor of Štanjel, now a picturesque village in the municipality of Komen. The village is attracting tourists today mainly because of his contribution, which includes the renovation of the Ferrari villa and its garden.

He died in 1962 in Gorizia, where he was buried, but his remains were transferred to his family's vault in his native village in the early 1980s.

Unfortunately, there are not many stories of Fabiani's life and all of his archives were destroyed in two fires, Hrausky said.


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