When it comes to warehouses and industrial buildings the practice of architecture can normally rest easy with the design of a good functional shell, built to fit its pure logistical and spatial purposes. Not the case with Slovenia’s latest architectural highlight. In 2007 Slovenian based architects Rok Oman and Spela Videcnik, founders of Oman & Videcnik, were commissioned to design a multi-use warehouse. The client’s company produce and merchandise safety equipment and devices which had to be stored in two thirds of the building’s volume; this needed to include storage loading, central storage for goods of different sizes and storage with attached loading. The remaining volume also needed to house offices and classrooms for safety lectures.
Built over a 780m2 floor plate the design team created a thoroughly modern structure using prefabricated, reinforced concrete panels. Throughout the elevations, semi-translucent polycarbonate screens and glass walls are used to break the functional façade. This in combination with a confident use of colour means this Bauhaus-esque building could easily sit on any modern university or hospital campus. First floor office accommodation features floor-to-ceiling double glazing and the building again accents contemporary trends with its use of polished concrete throughout.
Whilst the project is noteworthy in itself it comes as no surprise from this award winning young practice. Both Rok Oman and Spela Videcnik graduated from The Architectural Association in London in 2000 and went on to win the Corus/Building Design Young Architect of the Year Award in 2001. More recently the practice has notched up a string of nominations at the Mies van den Rohe Awards in 2008, including their work at the Maribor Football stadium and Hayrack apartments.
The practice operates over a wide spectrum of design from interiors to master planning and have been prolific since their graduation in London. Most noteworthy projects of late are the Farewell Chapel and their redevelopment work on the Maribor Stadium in eastern Slovenia. The Farwell Chapel stands near Ljubljana in Slovenia and perfects a quiet and reflective space. The building was designed next to an existing graveyard with its exterior wall cut into the rising landscape and three curved walls separating the building’s internal use. A dominant external curve divides the surrounding hill from the chapel plateau and the buildings green roof features a cruciform skylight.
In Maribor the practice developed what was previously a multipurpose sports facility in the centre of town, converting it into a world class football stadium. This sports project sits in stark contrast to the aforementioned storage design because of its budget of nearly E10.8m, but showcases a dynamic, successful and yet truly creative young practice.