PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION SHOWS BUILDINGS THAT COMPETED FOR THE ARCH PRIZE

Top Pick: Top achievements in Slovak architecture

BRATISLAVA'S tallest skyscraper, the Slovak National Bank building, won the 2002 competition of ARCH magazine, a monthly about architecture and culture. The publication characterizes the building as one of the capital's modern landmarks, a symphony of compromises, an excellent addition to the city's skyline, and a great example of strong urban architecture.
Photographs of the bank building, as well as pictures of the other six buildings that were nominated for the prize are currently on display in Bratislava's K.F.A. Gallery.
This was the fifth year that the competition has been held, and the jury consisted of members of ARCH's editorial board as well as invited foreign architecture experts. The project is accompanied by a catalogue, which includes a transcript of the jury's discussions.


photo: Brian Jones

BRATISLAVA'S tallest skyscraper, the Slovak National Bank building, won the 2002 competition of ARCH magazine, a monthly about architecture and culture. The publication characterizes the building as one of the capital's modern landmarks, a symphony of compromises, an excellent addition to the city's skyline, and a great example of strong urban architecture.

Photographs of the bank building, as well as pictures of the other six buildings that were nominated for the prize are currently on display in Bratislava's K.F.A. Gallery.

This was the fifth year that the competition has been held, and the jury consisted of members of ARCH's editorial board as well as invited foreign architecture experts. The project is accompanied by a catalogue, which includes a transcript of the jury's discussions.

"It was mainly the foreign jurors who favoured the bank building. They were impressed by its perfection, by the clear idea behind it, and the implementation of the project," says Hana Kopecká, staff writer for ARCH magazine.

The jury's decision was something of a departure, as previous winners had been less conservative, including private weekend houses and a church centre.

While under construction, the bank building faced criticism from the general public because its cost had risen from the initial estimate of Sk2 billion (47.9 million euro) to a final price tag of Sk3.9 billion (93.3 million euro). Then when it was finished it sat vacant for a long time because of technical problems.

In order to be nominated for the prize, a building must be the subject of an article published in ARCH magazine during the year before the prize is awarded. The second requirement is that the design of the building be an outstanding example of innovative, modern architecture.

The other nominees for the prize were the multifunctional Tatracentrum building opposite the presidential palace, the church of St. Francis, the Chatam Sofer memorial, and two office buildings - all in Bratislava - and a supermarket in the southwestern town of Zlaté Moravce. It may seem strange that buildings of different purposes and sizes compete in one category but what really matters, according to the organisers, is the originality of the design in a contemporary context.

"A building that fulfils modern standards of architecture should have a clear concept that is inspired by its surroundings. This does not necessarily mean that it should copy the style of the buildings in its area," says Kopecká, an architect herself.

She explains that the current trend in European and world architecture is to build in a minimalist style, something that is quite visible in Slovakia. Houses are simple in form and when it comes to materials there is an emphasis on wood, glass, or aluminium.

The ARCH 2002 exhibition is open from Monday to Friday, 8:00-16:30, until February 13. Admission is free. K.F.A. Gallery, Karpatská 11, Bratislava. Tel: 02/5720-1313.

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