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marián zervan (ed.)




15. Mostra


di Architettura

Partecipazioni Nazionali

Care ( Sorge ) for Architecture

Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance

Pavilion of The Czech Republic and The Slovak Republic

15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

The Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava

The National Gallery in Prague

Ministry of Culture of The Slovak Republic

Ministry of Culture of The Czech Republic

01. Statement p. 6

marián zervan

02. On the Slovak National Gallery site’s genesis, analysis and reflection p. 12

monika mitášová

03a. Textual Interpretation of Compositional and Clustering Arrangements p. 54

marián zervan, monika mitášová

03b. Architectural Interpretation of Compositional and Clustering Arrangements p. 66

benjamín brádňanský, vít halada

Co-authors : monika mitášová, marián zervan

In collaboration with : andrej strieženec, mária novotná,

anna cséfalvay, danica pišteková

04. Chronology p. 94

monika mitášová, marián zervan

05. Project Description p. 128

marián zervan

06. Photos of the SNG Model p. 134







TO DANCE marián zervan

Architecture must never lose its project,

or become paralyzed in solicitude (Fürsorgen),

or get lost in concern (Besorgen) – rather it must

find the courage to invite the arché to dance.

— variations on heidegger

We fill our lives more with metaphors

on fighting than on dancing.

— variations on lakoff



The idea to build the SNG (Slovak National Gallery) came about

after the Second World War. An emerging society, art historians

and architects were all making efforts. Each group had its own

conception, and took its own small steps. Society passed legislation,

and provided space in the former military Vodné kasárne

(Water Barracks). The SNG director Karol Vaculík desired

expansion of collections, and therefore of the Gallery’s space.

Architects tried out various sites and forms for the Gallery.

These steps led to the decision to form the new SNG site by

remodelling and adding to the Baroque Water Barracks, and

linking the public spaces of the city square adjacent.

The new site, and its individual architectural components,

came about in several stages through the 1960s and 1970s.

The architect Vladimír Dedeček found a phased solution, both

bold and unusual for its time. The building of a fourth and

front-facing side to the Water Barracks, along with the opening

up of the square as public space, inspired Dedeček to

employ a bridge construction, which connected the two wings

of the existing historical structure. He made this bridging into

exhibition space for modern and contemporary art. In this he

abandoned the classical structure of storeys, creating three

levels of floors that formed a total space and three progressive

unenclosed storeys. He shifted self-contained forms like the

office building, the library and the originally-planned outdoor

sculpture gallery in different directions. This made possible

clusters of contemporary new architecture and abstracted

classical forms of agoras, amphitheatres, odeón halls and

stoas. For a decade, he laboured to push through a complex

building/area site, but never succeeded in winning others over,

even in terms of proposed materials and technologies. The ultimate

result was imposing, but has from the first even until

now been misunderstood by the public, and many of Slovakia’s

architects. After 1989 there were thoughts to level the whole

site and build a new gallery structure. Public surveys and discussions

ensured, and from these there emerged a competition

for a renovation and addition.


The SNG building/area has long been seen as a nexus of

multiple front lines: A) The struggle with prejudice and custom:

generations of citizens are unable to overcome pseudo-historical

beliefs in shaping the city, and hanker for conservation and

restoration. B) Political disputes: after 1989’s Velvet Revolution,

the site including the bridge was put forward as the embodiment

of the monstrosities of the former (socialist/communist)

regime and its aspirational megalomania. The political elite, with

iconoclastic ambitions and rush to swap old models for new,

wavered over what to do with the site. Only the next generation

of architects, from here and abroad, proved able to de-politicize

the issue of the SNG site, grasping it as a cultural and architectural

challenge and opportunity. Then even the political elite

saw it as an undertaking to be fostered. C) Developer power

play: after 1989, building contractors and real estate developers

in the new capitalism of post-socialistic countries came up

with an ideological and pseudo-expert mask, intended to win

commissions in favour of demolition. There is only one way that

architects can contend with the combined forces of politicians

and developers, and it is not in front-line words or even metaphors;

rather they must do a verbal and metaphorical dance,

in which no one is pushed and everyone voluntarily engages

enjoyably in pursuing a common rhythm. D) Struggles among

architects and pseudo-experts: architects and preservationists

found themselves in mutually-incompatible discussions; in them,

rather than looking for a project, they nitpicked at flaws in construction,

technology and urban design, and suggested clearing

the area and building a new SNG. On the other side were

those who advocated in favour of the area as it is, who came

to believe it could be saved only if they toned down the boldness

of the problem. In the end it emerged that there were some

who understood the SNG could only live through a renewal of

Dedeček’s invitation to dance. Two architectural competitions

for renovation came out of these discussions, for a refurbishment

and an addition to the area, which would reflect the state

of archi tectural thought in Slovakia.


Competitions on renovation, refurbishment and addition to

the SNG have opened new thinking processes on the Gallery’s

spatial form. These processes are among the most significant

architectural tasks being undertaken in Central Europe, comparable

to solving the social and ecological issues of those living

in our globalized world’s baser conditions and environs. We can

never attain bold projects unless we understand the diversity of

cultures. When the SNG site originated, it expanded the horizons

of architectural awareness; now the competition designs

for renovation have brought with them many questions and answers.

Now as then, there are no universal solutions that can

function in the absence of awareness of the cultural particulars of

each society and environment – and particularly unless there is

a dance, shared by architects, theoreticians and historians, and

aficionados, who have the courage to take on public opinion.

The construction associated with the SNG is not a battle

over a single piece of architecture, though our history has many

such stories. Here we have what is above all the meeting of two

ways of thinking and building: fighting and dancing. Although

the language of fighting remains common, we hope the language

of dancing still has a chance. Therefore this is not just

some chronicle of a building, or an appeal or complaint, or a record

of the meticulous attention of preservationists and those

devoted to historical replicas and unprocessed concern; rather

the issue should be to imagine architecture’s potential. It is an

awakening of hope, of care for architecture, which hopefully will

be rid of the timidity manifested in pedestrian, generalized and

participative pseudo-solutions, in order to once more find the

courage to put forward intrepid cultural projects, countless invitations

by arché to architecture to dance. This would make possible

the reemergence of gaia architectura [ joyful architecture ].







AND REFLECTION monika mitášová

study for addition of southern/danube sng wing :

Vladimír Dedeček, 1962 1

study for the architects’ association zväz slovenských architektov :

Vladimír Dedeček, 1963 2

initial project, and alternative initial project :

Vladimír Dedeček, 1967 3

comprehensive project solution for project execution :

Vladimír Dedeček (lead architect)

and Peter Mazanec, Mária Oravcová, Ján Piekert (supporting architects)

and X. ateliér školských a kultúrnych stavieb, 1969 4

structural engineering project :

Otokar Pečený, B.[?] Zuzánek, Jindřich Trailin (steel construction),

Miloš Hartl, Karol Mesík, Mária Rothová (ferro-concrete construction)

interior architecture project :

Jaroslav Nemec

1st stage

− renovation of original building

– depository, first section

– exhibit building, addition of front wing (bridging)

– heating plant

2nd stage

– research/administrative building – upper construction

– depository, second section

– restoration studios

– photo laboratory

– library, study and outdoor amphitheatre with cinema

– lecture hall

– studios

3rd stage

– variable building, with temporary exhibit space and main entry (not realized)

4th stage

– garage with terraced ground-level roof and outdoor sculpture gallery (not realized)

general contractor :

Stavoprojekt Bratislava


investor :

Povereníctvo pre školstvo a kultúru

(after 1969 called the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Socialist Republic)

via the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava

construction :

Pamiatkostav, n. p., Žilina and Hydrostav, n. p., Bratislava;

additionally, Priemstav, n. p., Bratislava; Mostáre, n. p.,

Brezno and Stavoindustria, n. p., Bratislava

1st stage

1969, 5 addition (bridging)

and 1971, 6 renovation of Water Barracks – completed 1976 7

2nd stage

1972–1977 8 ( preliminary permission for use 1979, 9 final inspection 1980 10 )

building volume (total built space ) :

101,381 m 3

expenses :

approx. 106 mil. 350 thousand Kčs

typology :

Cultural sector project, a gallery area site with permanent

and short-term art exhibitions


1 Author’s dating: 1969–1978. In: Životopis z 26. novembra 1987.

Fond Vladimír Dedeček, Zbierka architektúry, úžitkového umenia

a dizajnu SNG. This was confirmed using an unpublished text

[multiple authors]: Záverečné technicko-ekonomické vyhodnotenie

dokončenej stavby “Rekonštrukcia a prístavba Slovenskej národnej

galérie”. [THS, SNG, Stavoprojekt], Bratislava 1980, 22 numbered

pages and appendices. In: Fond Vladimír Dedeček, Zbierka

architektúry, úžitkového umenia a dizajnu SNG.

2 Dated based on a published text by VACULÍK, Karol: Nové priestory

a expozície Slovenskej národnej galérie. Výtvarný život, 22, 1977,

vol. 7, pp. 12–19.

3 The investment was approved in 1965. In: [unsigned]

Záverečné technicko-ekonomické vyhodnotenie dokončenej

stavby “Rekonštrukcia a prístavba Slovenskej národnej galérie”.

Cited in Note 1 above.

4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 Ibidem.


Building(s) and spatial relationships

The new buildings of the gallery site area have been constructed

around three public spaces, such that they connect the river

banks with two of the city centre’s squares.

The southern space, facing the river, is a rectangular courtyard,

bounded by the historical building’s three wings and the

new facing wing (bridging). The underground gallery depository

lies underneath. At the courtyard’s centre is a raised plinth level

planted with grass and trees, designed for outdoor sculpture

exhibitions and visitor use (the reinstallation of the historical

fountain, with a circular pool connected to the building’s air

conditioning, was not realized in the courtyard because the investor

altered the air conditioning plan 11 ). Thus the river bank

area is connected to the gallery site via a “sculpture courtyard”

and a view into the historical building.

The second public space is an outdoor amphitheatre with

cinema, west of the courtyard. It connects the southern facing

wing (bridging) with the lower pavilion of the library and lecture

hall in the taller northwestern administrative building (which

houses restoration studios, a photo lab and a residential apartment

flat). The amphitheatre’s side wall of perforated concrete

forms allows a visual connectedness that parallels the river. The

western side, adjacent Hotel Devín, also made allowance for

outdoor sculpture installation (but this was not realized).

The third public space on the north, behind the historical building,

was designed as a terraced roof of garages and storage. The

terraces’ walkable roofs and lawn was meant to be an outdoor

sculpture gallery (this building was not realized; the site came to

serve as a gallery car park). The northern terraces were designed

to connect the river bank and the gallery site area, through several

varying heights, and the historic city centre to the north.

The main entrance to the gallery site from the river promenade

was placed at its southwest corner, near Belluš’ Hotel Devín.

A gallery of temporary exhibitions, or “Kunsthalle”, was designed


to be on the floor above (the site’s whole corner section was

not realized, and two apartment buildings from the 1940s remained).

The main entrance became the side entrances and

central entryway is from the courtyard / see p. 51 /.


A group of gallery buildings with public spaces, in the centre of

Bratislava on the Danube River banks (previously known variously

as Nábrežná ulica, Dunajské nábrežie, nábrežie Batthányiho,

Fadruszovo, Jiráskovo, currently called Rázusovo). In addition

to the river road, the site is bordered by the streets Riečna

to the west, Mostová to the east, and Paulínyho-Tótha to the

north. The streets connect the site to the east with Štúrova and

to the north with the square Hviezdoslavo námestie.

From the year 1700 a granary was located on SNG land, and

later the town militia’s Vodné kasárne (Water Barracks). The

four-wing Theresian barracks and it its square courtyard (1759–

1763) has been attributed to the Viennese architect Franz Anton

Hillebrandt. Its southern wing and parts of the eastern and western

wings was demolished in 1941 when the river road was widened.

12 The remaining “three-wing” arrangement was used as

11 The air system, by the French firm Tunzini, was to have been

computer-controlled, with water pumped from a dedicated well.

Expert analysis by the firm Strojexport Praha led them to select

Weiss from Austria (which later changed its commercial name

to ÖKG Grünbach), which planned a cheaper automatic/manual

control system that pumped water from the adjacent Danube.

The glass ceiling over the bridge’s exhibit spaces was sealed

with permanent plastic silicon into full glass Weginplast walls by

the Austrian firm Wegscheider Farben. For more see Záverečné

technicko-ekonomické vyhodnotenie dokončenej

stavby “Rekonštrukcia a prístavba Slovenskej národnej galérie”

as cited in Note 1, pp. 7–8. An expert appraisal in 1990 found air

condition unit consumption to be higher than what corresponded

to the stated period of operation. Thus the less expensive air

conditioning purchased and installed was in fact used.

12 HOLČÍK, Štefan. The gallery building also housed the Múzeum

hygieny. Staromestské noviny newspaper, 20 October 2007.


the arcaded palace with a “cour d’honneur”. The renowned cafe

and dance hall “Espresso Taranda” rented space in the building

until 1948 in the reinforced courtyard terrace. Around 1950, the

historical barracks was first renovated to be used to preserve

and present the Slovak National Gallery’s historical collections

(František Florians and Karol Rozmány Sr were responsible for

the design and renovation, 1949–1955).

In the early 1950s, Professor Emil Belluš and his architecture

students at the Slovak Technical University took part in site

selection for a new SNG pavilion or addition. In the 1957–58

academic year, Belluš published his studio’s student projects,

suggesting two locations: the first was a new SNG pavilion

construction at Gottwaldovo námestie (currently Námestie slobody),

with a detached pavilion gallery becoming part of the

new “technical university city” (the new neighbourhood around

technical university buildings); the second was an addition to

the historic Water Barracks, with the new addition expanding

exhibition space for the gallery’s burgeoning collection in the

historic building, and becoming part of the river promenade.

In 1952, Vladimír Dedeček graduated under Emil Belluš’

super vision, specifically with a thesis project on the Výstavný

pavilón SNG (SNG exhibition pavilion) located at a third site:

Kamenné námestie (the former Steinplatz, later Kiev Square)

in Bratislava. After years of working with his students, Belluš

made the following summary in the late 1950s: “[u]rban planning,

architectural, operational and financial studies proved

that the most realistic location for the expanded construction

of the Slovak National Gallery is the current tract on Rázusovo

nábrežie by the Danube, where a purposeful construction of

a face wing can well assure the gallery’s growing needs, as well

as creating an expedient and sufficiently spacious environment

for occasional special exhibits and exhibits of contemporary art.”

(BELLUŠ 1957, pp. 93–94.) This statement is in line with Belluš’ effort to

complete a modernized river area with a new skyline, i.e. his abiding

endeavour to finish a Danube promenade from Harminc’s


uilding, currently housing the directorate of the Slovak National

Museum (originally the agricultural museum) and the area of Park

kultúry a oddychu (now being demolished). But, in Dedeček’s

words, the main “inspiration for the idea to complete the SNG

with a modern facing wing that would enclose the yard in the

spirit of Hillebrandt’s original concept” was always the SNG

director Dr. Karol Vaculík (DEDEČEK, undated [1975], p. 1).

The contemporary guidelines Smernica pre výstavbu mesta

Bratislavy, from a group led by the city’s chief architect Milan

Hladký and chief city planner Milan Beňuška in October 1963,

states: “In terms of political administration, the commercial

and social centre should be developed in the context of the

current centre, expanded to subsume the tracts attached to

the Danube at Podhradské nábrežie and near the harbour, reassessing

the meaning of the Danube river area, building it

up as the city’s most frequented zone and thus emphasizing

the highly social function of these spaces... By 1970, a road

bridge to be constructed over the Danube in the Rybné námestie

space.” 13 Thus some of the riverbank’s historical architecture

was, in keeping with 1960s urban plans, demolished,

in part in connection with the Most SNP bridge construction.

Among these were burgher residences on Lodná ulica behind

Belluš’ Hotel Devín; some of the residences survived on Ulica

Paulínyho-Tótha, but the breadth and scale of the riverside had

changed. In this spirit, in 1965 the Slovenský ústav pamiatkovej

starostlivosti (the historical sites institute) issued the following

judgment on modernizing and refurbishing the riverside,

and Dedeček’s study for SNG renovation and construction:

“In principle, the view of this comprehensive urbanism solution

for the entire block and the modernity of the architectural style

is correct; the historical buildings in this quarter are physically

worn, and disrupt the additional new construction that would

13 BEŇUŠKA, Milan – HLADKÝ, Milan. Smernice pre výstavbu mesta

Bratislavy. Bratislava : Útvar hlavného architekta mesta Bratislavy,

October 1963, p. 10, 15 and 22.


give the quarter a new scale and expression, and furthermore

from the perspective of historical site significance they are of

little value and not studied by preservationists.” (The institute’s

director at the time was Ing. arch. Ján Hraško.) 14

Regarding preservation studies, the statement goes on

to identify just two historical buildings: the renovated “late

Renaissance” Water Barracks and the dilapidated “neoclassical

building” of the former horse railway terminus close to the

Hotel Carlton Savoy. Dedeček had the latter documented (as

part of the SNG reconstruction and addition project), but it was

taken down because the ceilings’ structural integrity was unsound.

The residential buildings on Ulica Paulínyho-Tótha were

at the time considered “unworthy of preservationist study”, to be

“purged” for the sake of both the Water Barracks and Harminc’s

addition and interconnection of three of Bratislava’s hotels, the

Carlton, the Savoy and the National, into a single modern hotel

(project 1927, realization 1928). With this intervention, Harminc

fundamentally changed and shifted the scale of the Hviezdoslavo

námestie square. Thus it was not just Professor Belluš’ Hotel

Devín, but also his generational predecessor’s triple hotel Carlton

Savoy ( National ) that had greatly outdone the surrounding

buildings in size and scale – indeed, by the 1930s a new urban

and architectural dimension had taken hold on the modernized

riverfront, which around 1950 Belluš affirmed and elaborated

with his Hotel Devín. Bratislava’s riverbank, touching its historical

core, had taken on new significance as a city promenade,

bringing the river’s presence right to Hviezdoslavovo námestie.

This modernized riverfront took on a new line, height and volume

of buildings, but also a new urban, social and recreational meaning

for its citizens. It was another step toward the city’s later

expansion to the other bank of the river, into Petržalka.


Program and spatial solution

The genesis of the Slovak National Gallery as an institution

drew, as many authors including Emil Belluš have noted, on the

exhibition activities of Slovakia’s first independent “centre” of

Slovak and Czech artists in the Umelecká beseda slovenská (by

Alois Balán – Jiří Grossmann, competition project 1924, realization

1925–1926) on Šafárikovo námestie near the Danube.

Of it, Belluš wrote in 1957: “Though it had long been riven by

political courses, there was such an upsurge in the life of art

in Slovakia under the new conditions that the auspicious exhibit

pavilion within a few short years to be insufficient.” (BELLUŠ

1957, p. 91) In 1933 the first permanent installation of Slovakia’s

19 th and 20 th century painters came about, called The National

Slovak Gallery, in Harminc’s newly completed National Museum

in Martin. Ten years later, a Slovak Gallery opened in the Slovak

National Museum on the banks of the Danube in Bratislava. But

as an independent institution, the SNG – founded in summer

1948 – received new tasks: “It was a great disadvantage that

Slovakia had a late start in putting together a representational

national art collection. It was also disadvantageous that the

SNG came about through a process opposite to most European

galleries: not through an accumulation of [art] objects that

forced the inception of a public collection, but by founding an

institute for the purpose of originating a coherent collection.”

(VACULÍK 1957, p. 78.)

A secondary aspect of this late founding of the Slovak

National Gallery institution was that, along with the national

archive, there was no initial chance for this gallery to be located

in a suitable historical palace or monastery complex, as had

been the case with Slovakia’s national and state institutions

14 Opinion of the director (name not shown, signature illegible

[possibly Ing. arch. Ján Hraško /?/]) of the Slovenský ústav

pamiatkovej starostlivosti a ochrany prírody, dated in Bratislava

11 January 1965 and sent to the SNG and Bratislava's chief

architect's office. Typewritten, 2 pages. In: Fond Karol Vaculík,

Archív výtvarného umenia SNG.


founded earlier. Therefore construction of a new gallery building

brought with it the advantage of allowing formulation of

a new architectural undertaking. 15 The need was defined for

a localization of art depository, restoration, study/research and

exhibition spaces that would also provide sufficiently variable

indoor and outdoor galleries, of a nature that refurbished buildings

originally serving as residential and service wings in palaces,

monasteries or barracks could not offer. For instance, the

investor responsible for the new Slovak National Archive sought

architecture in the spirit of the contemporary building of Matica

slovenská in Martin (by Dušan Kuzma – Anton Cimmermann,

competition project 1961–1962, realization 1963–1975) rather

than complicated connection to or renovation of the capital’s

various historical structures.

Years of preparations led to the government’s proposal, through

the Slovak parliament’s schools and culture commission on

28 December 1962, to build on the historical Water Barracks,

directing the responsible minister Vasil Bil’ak to begin preparations

and include the construction in the budget. Based on this

the SNG’s director, Dr. Karol Vaculík, called for an initial proposal

(comparison study) to build Vladimír Dedeček’s southern,

Danube-oriented wing onto the barracks. In 1962 Dedeček submitted

a first alternative for the wing, as a Le Corbusier-esque

functionalist building on pilotis with open parterre and a flat roof.

Here the exhibition floors were not lined up, but rather shifted

in two directions, such that natural light from above illuminated

them / see architectural interpretation, p. 76, pict. B /.

The architects’ association Sväz slovenských architektov

(SSA), drawing on Bratislava’s urban planning guidelines, extended

Vaculík’s program to include building an entire city

block; in 1963 they compiled a study for the gallery’s addition

and renovation (THURZO 1978, p. 4). Four groups were invited to propose:

one under Jaroslav Fragner of Prague’s Academy of Fine

Arts architecture school; under Eugen Kramár of Stavoprojekt

Košice; under Martin Beňuška and Štefánia Rosincová of both


Bratislava’s chief architect’s office and Stavoprojekt Bratislava;

and finally X. ateliér vysokoškolských a kultúrnych stavieb under

Vladimír Dedeček of Stavoprojekt Bratislava.

The selection of comparative studies consulted with the association

differed from the standard architectural competition

in that the SSA association’s commission was able to consult

the studies with the four groups when they created them, then

compare them continuously and ultimately announce a winner.

Thus there was in fact a two-round consultative selection process

ending in a vote. Vladimír Dedeček’s study was chosen:

there was a first alternative for the site (with a second alternative

for the southern wing adjacent the Danube on pilotis), expanded

to include completion of a city block with an outdoor terraced

sculptured gallery to the north, toward the historic core. The SSA

commission was chaired by Štefan Svetko, then the director of

Bratislava’s chief architect’s office; the other members were

Alojz Dařiček, Ján Steller, L’ubomír Titl and Milan Škorupa. 16

In the sense of this “consultative selection by voting”, the architect

Dedeček’s introduction to the project’s text distinctively noted:

“This study’s working method is discussion. The discussion’s

individual phases and arguments are present in the visual material...”

(DEDEČEK 1963, p. 1). This formulation, and archive documents

on the commission’s work, make clear that the consultations

yielded a first concept for the area, considered fitting by both

commission and investor for preparing the investment plan and

an initial project. Vladimír Dedeček consulted the subsequent

investment plan (approved in 1965) and initial project (approved

15 An oft-cited text by Dr. Martin Kusý stressed as much: KUSÝ,

Martin – GRÁCOVÁ, Genovéva. Slovenská národná galéria.

Slovensko, 1, 1977, vol. 3, pp. 4–5.

16 See the SSA minutes Zápisnica z 1. konzultácie posudzovacieho

sboru so spracovatel’mi študijnej úlohy na doriešenie SNG

v Bratislave, konanej dň a 17. septembra 1963 na sekretariáte

SSA v Bratislave. Typewritten, p. 2. In: Fond Karol Vaculík.

Archív výtvarného umenia SNG. See also Záverečný protokol

from the assessment of studies, dated 16 December 1963,

3-4 and 6 January 1964, at the SSA secretariat. Typewritten,

p. 9. In: Fond Karol Vaculík, Archív výtvarného umenia SNG.


in 1968) in 1966–1967 with the gallery director Dr. Vaculík, who

considerably influenced the project’s character. This was a longterm

working discussion between the architect and those who

commissioned and financed the construction, and also included

other architects and city planners selected by the SSA.

The next step in building this gradually-designed and -consulted

national gallery project was inclusion in investment

budget planning and allocation of finances. Dr. Vaculík and the

associations of Slovak and Czech artists – like other investors

of prestigious buildings of national significance – several times

requested government and state leaders for financial assistance

to launch and maintain the gallery construction. 17

Later the architect, in part responding to criticism, was to call

the first alternative, with the second alternative for the Danube

wing on pilotis, “... sober, and let us say to some extent conservative.”

(DEDEČEK, undated [1975], p. 3). For all that, a pilotis construction

was being placed next to Belluš’ 20 th century classicized functionalist

hotel, with its terrace near the Danube. The floors were

shifted in two directions, so as to benefit from top lighting and

give the extensive wing a broken-field bulk and mass: “The technical

purpose endows the mass with a plastic tone. The steel

construction makes this solution possible.” (DEDEČEK 1967, p. 1)

Dedeček harmonized the new solution to the construction and

mass/spatial issues of the exhibition spaces in the Danube wing

with the Hotel Devín to the west and the Esterházy palace to the

east by means of several contextual choices: through respecting

the new line of the street, the height of Esterházy palace

gabling, the modernizing scale of Hotel Devín, and a design of

an analogous facade – for like Belluš’ hotel, the gallery project

was meant to be faced with stone from the Spišské Podhradie

travertine field.

The architect had first tried out staggered storeys in connection

with top natural lighting for the classrooms and teacher

rooms in the Secondary economics school / 33-class economics

school building on Ulica Februárového vít’azstva (now the


Obchodná akadémia on Račianska). The arrangement of mass

and space in this school was thus a foretaste of the Danube

wing gallery exhibition space and a turning point in the context of

the architect’s later work. In working with daylight for the top and

combined interior lighting, which directly influenced the differentiation

of the buildings individual storeys, the architect was responding

to the other zones and buildings around. Interestingly,

he developed the idea to a large extent in the partially-realized

project of Forestry and wood processing university in Zvolen,

in the unbuilt central university library building.

Even in his first alternatives for the SNG completion, Dedeček

emphasized a series of interior and exterior “gallery squares”, and

their relation to “town squares”. It was these urban “art exhibition

environments” of Dedeček’s that enfolded the individual gallery

building wings, and opened up the compact barracks block,

17 SNG archives have preserved a letter from Dr. Vaculík to the

culture minister Miroslav Válek dated 31 October 1969, in which

he requests the minister to “... intervene energetically and assist

in this matter”. Typewritten, 3 pages. In: Fond Karol Vaculík. Archív

výtvarného umenia SNG. [In it, Vaculík explains to Válek the crisis

of the threatening halt of the incomplete construction, and the

disproportion between the real costs and the underestimated

first phase budget (made so the investment could be held to

under 40 mil., meaning the Slovak culture ministry – back before

the Federation was established – would not have to get approval

from the “Prague government”). He also informed the minister

that Comrades Peter Colotka and Július Hanus had promised to

arrange for the project to be included at the soonest government

cabinet meeting. Similarly, Comrade Štefan Šebesta, minister

for construction and technology, promised to help Vaculík. At the

same time, it was noted a delegation of functionaries from the

association of Czech and Slovak artists had “some time ago”

discussed the issue of the President of the Republic. The President

(Antonín Novotný until March 1968, then Jozef Lenárt as Acting

President from 22–30 March, and Ludvík Svoboda from March

1968) proposed linking the construction of the National gallery

in Prague and in Bratislava in one nationwide undertaking, so as to

finance it from the Republic Fund. Vaculík considered this feasible.

By then the steel bridge had been commissioned and mostly

built (cost 10 mil. Kčs), with a planned delivery to the building site

of early 1970. Vaculík was appealing to Válek that construction

not be halted, as this would misspend invested financies, and the

painstakingly assembled structure of suppliers would collapse .]


with its central square, to a field of checkerboard-like differentiated

environments with a variety of levels and means of moving

around (covered walkways, passages, loggias, stairways, ramps,

raised pedestals/plinths, rooftop terraces, walkable roofs and

so forth). Such urban links at diverse heights made it possible

to perceive the art, the site and the city from varying elevations:

it even afforded views of adjacent riverfront buildings, the river,

the streets of the historical city core, and the growing city space

on the other bank of the Danube.

The purpose of a gallery site area so designed was both

to provide for indoor exhibitions in the gallery’s own buildings,

but to connect them to outdoor exhibitions “in among” buildings,

on them and under them, in open passageways. Thus it

was not just Dedeček’s buildings themselves that enabled and

enclosed the exhibition space, but vice versa too: Dedeček’s

urban exposition environment in public space turned the gallery

into an indoor-outdoor art exhibit along the river. It could be said

that the site stimulated the relationships between the outdoor

modern sculpture exhibits and the plasticity of late modern

architecture; it could also be said that the site as it was designed

with consideration for exhibiting historical and modern

sculpture right in the city, even anticipating exhibition of new

types and genres of art: environments and installations in situ

alongside series and accumulations of artworks. The summer

amphitheatre brought in the cinematic art. So this was a comprehensive

and innovative urbanist/architectural space, intended

even for new audio-visual arts, accessible in a new urbanist/

architectural situation. However, in the 1980s, after Dr. Vaculík

was removed from the gallery’s leadership and the construction

was completed, the spaces were not utilized as variably and

innovatively as the site’s urban/architectural plan envisioned.

Using the gallery area’s system of interior and exterior walkways,

ramps and stairways, the public could walk from and to the riverfront

to Štúrovo or Hviezdoslavovo námestie. A system of buildings

thus designed, and their interstices, is an exquisitely urban


gallery, a public space of multiple focal points, with focal points

linked and even crisscrossed. Any effort by the gallery’s administrators

or renovators to “enclose” the gallery as designed, to

fill its “gallery squares” with indoor exhibit spaces, would run

counter to the gallery’s concept of a distributed and crisscrossing

plan; to use Aldo van Eyck’s phrase, counter to the “labyrinthine

clarity” of its indoor and outdoor walkways, spaces and

interstitial spaces.

Seen in this light, the group of gallery buildings and their

public spaces constitute a high point in Dedeček’s program to

dislocate the urban mono-block (in urbanist and architectural

terms) into a cluster that he had begun to formulate and prove

as a counterpart to tried and true compositional approaches

in primary and secondary schools, and continued in later university

areas. The opened raster of SNG spaces is one – and

the meandering pavilions of the Comenius University Natural

Science faculty in Bratislava-Mlynská dolina another – of these

interpretations: another of Dedeček’s solutions to his self-assigned

task of rethinking relations between urban architectural

openness and closedness. Ultimately, the interconnection of

gallery and public space in the SNG project was not to change,

from its earliest proposed alternatives through a fragmentary

realization, despite the turbulent metamorphosis of the whole.

A group of experts of the culture and information ministry gave

approval to the introductory project as prepared (the first alternative

for the area and the second alternative for the southern

wing) in 1967: Professors Emil Belluš and Vladimír Karfík, the

architect and urban planner Štefan Svetko, the construction engineer

Jozef Harvančík and the architect Anton Cimmerman (Jozef

Lacko excused himself). 18 Of their decision, Vladimír Dedeček

wrote: “In scale and material we accommodated primarily to

the principles applied in realizing Hotel Devín. The technical

and financial council of the culture ministry, which included

[H]otel Devín’s architect Prof. Belluš, opposed this as some-

18 / see p. 29 /


thing that had been outlived in the current rapid developments

in architecture.” (DEDEČEK, undated, p. 4) In other words, this group in

July 1967 was already considering Dedeček’s five-year-old conception

for the SNG front wing on pilotis as a thing outdated,

and called for its innovation. This shows the dynamic changes

in architectural thinking in 1960s Slovakia. In his expert opinion

on construction of the SNG addition, Jozef Harvančík stated:

“... from the perspective of construction, the project features

a desirable unity between technological conception and architectural

expression that is noteworthy for our age. On these

grounds I advocate project approval.” 19 In his opinion, Marián

Marcinka commented mainly on the tall research/administrative

building: “The effort at freeing up the ground level is a worthy

aspect of the design: detaching the mass from engineering

networks, and trying to overlap indoor and outdoor spaces

at ground level; and the liberating maintaining of the gallery’s

individuality and retaining of spatial association between the

current gallery and the river bank... Interesting and resourceful,

too, is the conception of mass of the exhibition portion

from the banks of the Danube, with a calming, dignified and

monumental effect. However, I cannot rid myself of the feeling

that there is still a detail missing overall, something that

would bring everything together... The administration building’s

material solution, and its indoor spatial layout, is not convincing,

seeming not to attain the quality of the other portions, and

fails to come up to the solution of the whole. There is a kind

of incongruity of architectural emphasis on the height of something

that in its content is less essential (administration, photo

lab, residences and the like). I do not think the gallery should

show its architectural authority by emphasizing its height.” 20

Marcinka’s opinion recommended approval, along with setting

interim deadlines for reacting to such suggestions.

A third opinion of an unidentified institution, with unidentified

signature, expressed similar reservations: “The construction

overall is logical in terms of operations and disposition, as it

builds on the existing structure and in a fitting manner places


the individual functional units (exhibition spaces, so-called

administrative block, and garages). Automobile and pedestrian

transport is optimally resolved, as are the proposed entrances

to each unit. The garage’s location and architectural concept

is especially good. What is debatable is the material solution

of ‘administrative’ operations; and the architectural material

completion of Phase I of construction remains an unresolved

problem – i.e. that which is the subject of actual building work,

and its relations to existing well-preserved residential houses

on the corner by Hotel Devín. We cannot agree with the implicit

cutting off of volumes by the attic walls.” 21 This third opinion’s

conclusion included no final evaluation as to approval.

18 See enclosures to Dr. Karol Vaculík's letter to Vladimír Dedeček of

4 September 1967, typewritten, 19 p. It features the expert opinions

of Jozef Harvančík and Marián Marcinka, and a third opinion from

an unspecified institution with an unidentified signature. It also

includes the opinion of Slovakia's historical sites institute with

an unidentified director's signature [at the time, the director was

Ing. arch. Ján Lichner, CSc.]. All these documents are copies of

originals. In: Fond Karol Vaculík. Archív výtvarného umenia SNG.

Because this was a new introductory project, the group of experts

recommended a new appraisal of the second alternative, which was

to take place at the ministry's administrative/technical commission

on 1 August 1967. They additionally requested an opinion from

the construction concern Pozemné stavby, národný podnik

Bratislava, and the chief architect's office in Bratislava. Neither

Dedeček nor the experts participated in these proceedings.

Those present were: Dr. Karol Vaculík, František Baláž, and

Ján Matúšek on behalf of the investor; Viktor Faktor, chief

of operations for the lead architect, Dedeček's studio X. ateliér;

Jozef Vaňko for Slovakia's construction commission; and

Ing. arch. Marcinková, Ing. Šurinová, Ing. Magdalík, Ing. Ján Fišer

and Milan Jankovský, for the culture ministry. The commission

recommended approval of the developed introductory project.

In: Fond Karol Vaculík. Archív výtvarného umenia SNG.

19 HARVANČÍK, Jozef. Posudok konštrukcií v Úvodnom projekte

Slovenskej národnej galérie v Bratislave pre Povereníctvo kultúry

a informácií. 10 July 1967, typewritten, 3 p. In: Príloha listu

Karola Vaculíka Vladimírovi Dedečkovi, 4 September 1967,

typewritten, 19 p. Ibidem.

20 MARCINKA, Marián. Vyjadrenie k úvodnému projektu

na prístavbu Slovenskej národnej galérie v Bratislave.

Undated, typewritten, 3 p. Ibidem.

21 [unspecified institution] Vyjadrenie k PÚ-SNG. 30 June 1967,

typewritten, 4 p. Ibidem.


The commission discussed these expert opinions with the

architect on 1 July, and 14 July 1967 was set as deadline for

checking on project adjustments. Dedeček, responding to the

opinions and the discussion, prepared over these 14 days a new

alternative design (second area alternative, with third alternative

for the Danube wing). In his new Technical report he stated:

“Comrade Ing. arch. Svetko expressed reservations to the 4 m

under-passage under the mass of exhibit spaces [i.e. to the

colonnade in the Danube wing parterre], which in his opinion

did not sufficiently visually connect the Taranda spaces with the

riverbank’s; further, compared to the architectural solution of

enclosing the SNG atrium with the new building, the proposal

is not sufficiently organic.” 22 Dedeček reacted by raising the

space under the Danube wing, creating: “... a 3-level bridge in

front of the current [historical building’s] SNG, enabling visual

connection between viewers by the Danube and the entire

SNG space, which would then be visible up to the cornice

(given that the courtyard vegetation so allows). The height of

the opening [under the bridging is now] approximately 7.80 m.

There are no supports in this space, enhancing the perception

of the courtyard. (...) A courtyard spectator sees the new and

old roofs at almost the same angle. This also improves the access

of sunlight to the atrium; at the same time, this change

reduces the total floor space, and one level is eliminated by

increasing the opening. (...) Though the experts’ suggestions

are at odds with the opinion of the jury and the advisory body of

studies [of the architects’ association], I accept them because

they reduce expenses, which in this situation will seem beneficial.

I believe this had led me to a more interesting conception,

with a similar volume composition for all sections.” 23

Thus the Danube wing’s new space and arrangement came

about through elimination of the lowest storeys, and a new

conception of design of exposition spaces (the 3-storey wing

became an open hall divided into 3 levels of ascending walkways).

This new design also called for a new steel construction

free of middle supports. The composition of the “bridging’s”


arrangement into the riverfront, on the one hand, is the result

of earlier solutions of sandwiched storeys, and on the other is

a new diagonal bevelling resulting from the contours of sunlight

coming into the space under the “bridging”. I.e., this was not just

a matter of keeping to the construction/physical diagram of the

lighting, which might be architecturally interpreted variously. The

diagonal bevelling form is moreover an indication of the steel

bridge structure’s ability to carry the spaces with no central

supports, such that the parterres are opened, with no shadowing,

and no blocking of pedestrians from the street, all while

providing a new layer above ground and air of urban functions,

right in the historical core, with all its usual density of habitation

and construction... In other words, the SNG bridging, frequently

regarded as an “expressive” or even “aggressive” form, is in

fact exquisitely urban, in that it leaves open and accessible the

courtyard space in the parterre, in this sense a form “social” and

cultured. And this is the cultural and civilizational sense of the

word urban – i.e. the cultural and social emancipation of the city

from the nature-bound inevitability of respecting the action of

natural forces. But this bridging quality can be seen and appreciated

only if the citizens look not just at what the gallery bridge

dismantled and halted, but also at what it to the contrary did

not halt, at what it carries and how it rounds out the Bratislava

riverfront. The modern bridging of the historical structure comes

to the forefront if we look at the very nature of the public space

it helps to shape and supplement, and not just as a thing in itself

with its demolished predecessors. Based on the expert opinions,

the architect lowered the administrative building from the

requested 8 storeys to the current 6, and finished the structure

with a flat walkable roof with skylights for the restoration studios

and a tall attic with a Le Corbusier-esque “window” toward the

castle and the opposite river bank.

22 DEDEČEK, Vladimír. Technická správa k alternatívnemu riešeniu

ÚP SNG. 11 June 1967. typewritten, 2 p. In: Fond Vladimír Dedeček,

Zbierka architektúry, úžitkového umenia a dizajnu SNG.

23 Ibidem, p. 1.


In late 1969, i.e. after Czechoslovakia’s occupation by Warsaw

Pact armies, a newly-named expert commission evaluated the

resulting alternative based on project documentation.

A new opinion from the preservation institute, with an unreadable

signature (Ing. arch. Ján Lichner, Csc. was then director),

reproached the lack of consultation with that institute on

the new design, created in 14 days. For this reason the institute

refused to give an overall position, expressing itself only “... from

the limited perspective of preserving cultural heritage sites as

registered by the state. Referring to the opinion of 11 January

1965 we have no objections in principle to the solution of the

new addition’s integration into the historical cultural site, though

we are not expressing any opinion on the proposed architecture.

Because of generally known technical circumstances, and the

fact that the historical portion’s interior disposition and vaulting

system has already been interrupted, we do not demand a strict

preservation of vaulting on the west wing’s upper floor. However

we ask that the courtyard’s facade expression with its central

feature of a suggested building (chapel 24 ) be preserved, and

the vaulting system of the arcaded corridors. In conclusion, we

hold that from the perspective of preserving cultural heritage

there are no objections in principle to the project submitted, and

we agree with the given request.” 25 As in the previous opinion,

there was no request here that there be a larger view through the

courtyard to the historical building arcades.

Interestingly, Dedeček’s study from back in 1963 included

a view into the courtyard, at the height of one storey; the first

SSA association commission chairman Štefan Svetko consistently

advocated for two things throughout the evaluation: a view

through to the building and eventually an enlarged view – along

with a newer, more contemporary expression of the facing wing

(!), something that by the late 1960s corresponded not just to

Belluš’ classicized functionalist hotel, or to Le Corbusier’s five

points of modern architecture, or to Dedeček’s own program of

dissipating the mono-block, but rather to the dynamic of transformations

in late 1960s architecture in Europe and the world.


The second group of experts thus late in 1969 essentially

merely confirmed the discussion between Dedeček, Cimmermann,

Harvančík, Marcinka, Svetko, Karfík and Belluš on

completing the SNG, of which only partial records have been

archived. These discussions played a formative role in the later

1960s in the project’s metamorphosis. Thanks in part to them,

during the design phase the construction departed from one

stage of late modern architecture in Slovakia, and moved into

another: some would now call it communistic, totalitarian and

“normalizing”, while others consider it a variation or derivation

of what was happening in architecture internationally, especially

in Europe. For the former group, it is most particularly a mirror

image of the politics of the socialistic “normalization” of the city

and the state; for the latter, it is was reaction to the example set

by 1960s architecture internationally, on the other side of the

iron curtain – usually without considering Dedeček’s long-term,

systematic development of how he looked at architecture and

architectural design of SNG / see Textual Interpretation of Compositional and

Clustering Arrangements, p. 55–65 /.

Module, construction, volume, surfacing

The subterranean construction of additions to the historical

building are of ferro-concrete, and those above ground

are atypically steel-based. Regarding the bridging, “... this

is a kind of three-level steel bridge of framed joists, laid on

2 abutments, fixed and socketed”. (DEDEČEK – PIEKERT 1968, p. 2.) The

administrative building was designed as “... a steel, five-floored

[i.e. six- storeyed] frame with consoled, phased shifting of the

forefront toward Hotel Devín, with a brick cladding”. (DEDEČEK –

PIEKERT – ORAVCOVÁ 1971, p. 1.) The steel construction is walled-in.

24 Other historians, such as Dr. Štefan Holčík, opine that this remnant

was the smaller tower with “commandants” balcony.

25 [SUPSOP] Vyjadrenie k vykonávaciemu projektu na prístavbu

a rekonštrukciu budovy SNG v Bratislave. 21 November 1969,

typewritten, 2 p. (cited in Note 14).


The ceiling is of waved metal plates, and the stairway is of steel

faced with marble.

The construction has a gravel foundation; the ground water

level was lowered using two wells.

Otokar Pečený of Mostáreň Brezno designed the structural

engineering of all the above-ground, i.e. steel construction;

based on this contract, he became an employee of Dedeček’s

studio X. Ateliér, and took the main role in designing construction

of Dedeček’s later steel structures, especially the culture/sports

hall in Ostrava. He also designed the structure of the depository

racks/shelving (“depository coulisse of steel construction” DEDEČEK 1968, p. 2),

again manufactured by Mostáreň Brezno.

The load-bearing system of the bridging is in four girders on two

30 cm-wide abutments at a distance of 54.5 m. One of these

is fixed, the other socketed, allowing tensibility of the construction.

The lowest of the three cascading levels in the bridging is

suspended on bottom bands of the lowest-situated girders. The

upper two levels are placed on the upper bands of the girders.

Thus the main construction combines support and suspension.

The roofing, including the glassed ceilings, is supported by

crossbeam on the upper bands of the upper girder (toward the

river) and of the lowest girder (toward the courtyard). This means

the individual levels are each supported by a single girder, with

the other securing stability in case of unbalanced loading.

The bridging’s floors are of ribbed metal plates 6 mm thick,

reinforced on top with braces poured over with a 6 cm layer

of concrete. This created solid flat elements, able to take both

perpendicular loading and the entire horizontal force in a lateral

system of abutments, while stabilizing the pressed bands of the

girders. Auxiliary stairways and an elevator are situated to the

sides of the abutment.

The topmost girder has a cornice (console) on both sides. To

the east, toward the former Dom Československo- sovietskeho

priatel’stva (now Esterházy palace of the SNG), the girder is


corniced at about 11 m (11.06 m), and to the west, toward

Belluš’ Hotel Devín it is laid at about 8 m (7.6 m). The load

of the framed walls – the levels’ supporting elements – is on

both of the corniced ends (DEDEČEK undated, pp. 5–6). In addition to

the corniced construction, there are further auxiliary constructions

(towers) at the sections at the edge. The total length of the

bridging construction is therefore 73.5 m.

The steel bridge thus designed can carry the three floors –

terraced walkways (receding upwards by more than half of the

floor plan surface) with a view of the entire height of exhibition

space toward the roof daylight from the north. White artificial

lighting using halogen bulbs is built into the ceiling of each

walkway/terrace. Artworks can be installed flexibly in the open

three-level longitudinal, thanks to a system of partitions tracked

on the ceiling and floor of all three levels. Movable partitions are

stackable by the bridging’s western side wall.

The space, tall and rising, white and cascading, is 54.5 m long,

with diffuse top daylight as supplemented with artificial halogen

lighting. It was designed mainly for installation and viewing of modern

art works. An unrealized gallery of temporary exhibitions, over

the main entry by Hotel Devín, was intended to serve contemporary

art. In the variable space of the segmentable “white cascading

prism”, modern pieces can be installed without frames and

pedestals, in cycles or other accumulations, such that the space

becomes their continuation. It does not create unchangeable spatial

fields, whether hierarchized or not. (Presently in renovation).

In addition to the exhibition spaces in the bridging, and the

small depositories in the historical building’s garret, the main

depository spaces were situated underground for space management

– there are two storeys of depositories under the

administrative wing, and one under the bridging; diaphragm

walls protect against ground water leakage (anchored by steel

cables in the ground along the external perimeter), using sealed

internal surfaces. 26

26 Waterproof expanding mortar Waterplug with cement-based Thoroseal.


The architect’s second alternative for the southern wing anticipated

cladding, for the administrative and bridging structures,

of white and red glass mosaic tile (from the firm Jablonecká

bižutéria: white no. 937 and red no. 1561) and facing of slate

(from Moravské ště rkovny and pískovny Olomouc); for the third

alternative, he designed an alternative facing of anodized steel

from Hunter Douglas (with “golden”, or more precisely bronze,

finishing). However for reasons of time and finances the cladding

was realized in the winter using “dry assembly” of siporex

panels, quickly finished with profiled enameled aluminium plates

(with white and red enamel). The bridging’s abutments and the

administration’s parterre are faced with gray-black slate (the design

featured facing the abutments at ground level with black

marble; not realized).

Thus the architect had to adjust to rapid “winter assembly” of

the facades and their surfaces, so the first stage of construction

(the Danube gallery wing) could be put into use on the occasion

of the 29th anniversary of The 1948 Czechoslovak coup d’état

and the 29th anniversary of the SNG’s founding. This is why

he chose the “temporary” installation of a metal facing, in part

because the material corresponded to the architectural character

of the building’s facing wing: “It may seem too unusual to

use such surfacing material, but they are the expression of the

current material and technological circumstances, and reflect

the current progress and condition of industrial manufacturing.

So there is no reason they ought not to become significant

media for modern architecture. This is especially so if it is architecture

that in no way reminds us of preceding developmental

phases of architecture in our country. Interiors, too, use equally

new materials 27 .” (DEDEČEK undated [1975], p. 7)

The indoor white cement masonry was designed to have

a surface layer of crushed white marble (supplied by Umelecké

remeslá; not realized). The atypical glass windows, doors and

walls were supplied by the state-run Sklounion Teplice, ZUKOV

in Prague and the collective Umeleckých remesiel.


The atypical portions of the interior, in particular the raised auditorium

seating of light wood, the profiled acoustic wall cladding

and the paned wooden acoustic ceiling, with the cinema hall

lighting and sound system, was realized according to the design

of Jaroslav Nemec. He also designed the built-in wooden

office furniture (with built-in cabinet configuration including sink

and closet space). He designed low seating for the exhibit hall

(square upholstered, with out armrests covered in black leather,

on metal legs and a solid square base) and square wooden tables

with laminated surface on an analogous metal base (the collective

Umeleckých remesiel also participated in making this furniture).

Nemec’s design for the secretariat interior, meeting rooms,

offices and director’s suite underwent major changes. For the

offices and director’s suite he designed atypical white wood

wall covering in columns, with white console desks in various

orthogonal shapes, dimensions and heights, which with the

white surfacing and lighting panels made for a “single whole,

in construction and architecture”, accented with black and light

wood surfaces; it was a customized, partly “built-in interior” for

the 1960s, modified in the late 1970s, and it went unrealized.

Also unrealized was his customized “diagram table” (NEMEC 1978,

p. 3). The spaces were furnished with atypical office furniture of

light wood, and manufactured seating from the ALFA series, by

the state firm Turčan in Martin.


Form/style : A short review by Jozef Liščák did not categorize

the building in style or form. The review concerned itself roughly

equally with stages I and II of the construction as well as the

27 The architect was mainly referring to panelling (Izomín),

sprayed-on surfacing (Dikoplast) and floor surfaces (Izofloor),

in support of the stone flooring of public gallery spaces.

IZOMÍN came from the IZOMAT plant in Nová Baňa; these are

hard insulation panels of mineral fibre with strong fireproofing

resistance. The Swedish firm Junkers supplied the technology;

they started producing in Slovakia in 1973.


unbuilt stages III and IV. The (future) SNG renovation and

addition was regarded as a single whole. He even regarded

the facade facing as provisional, and stressed the stone cover

design of the facing wing and the administrative building:

“The colouring of the temporary metal outside cladding is problematic...

The final facade treatment – a stone facing with a cultivated

structure and colouring anticipated – will favourably

round out the architectural aspect of the SNG complex. It will

unify and underline the rich architectural plasticity, with maximum

effectuation of monumentality.” (LIŠČÁK 1981, pp. 4–5.)

Another reviewer was the new gallery director Štefan Mruškovič

(serving 1975–1990; Dr. Karol Vaculík was not allowed to

remain in his position even for the opening of the structure he had

worked so vitally to bring about). In his mid-1970s review, this

successor to Vaculík recounted critical voices from among gallery

visitors and employees: criticism ranging from how the historical

barracks building was supplemented, through the construction’s

architectural resolution and the bridging’s outdoor appearance,

even to the atrium’s plinth, the incongruity of the building’s indoor

entry spaces (small), and the inconvenience (undersized) of the

stairways, along with the construction’s technical shortcomings.

Similarly to Liščák, Mruškovič noted that this was just a fragment

of the whole solution, a recapitulation phase in Dedeček’s

design; he did not note the contributions of individuals to decision-making

(he nowhere mentioned Dr. Vaculík) or the changes

forced onto the project. Finally he concluded: “Our experience

has shown that the opinions and impressions of everyday SNG

visitors often differ quite diametrically. The critical voices that at

first absolutely rejected the addition’s solution and its surfacing

are no longer so strong, now that the SNG has been built and

opened..., although much of the public still has not accepted the

building’s most basic construction and architecture... But there

are also some who praise the uniqueness of the building’s modernity

and construction...” As the incoming director, he valued

the ability to install artworks in the “free” halls, and in a cascaded

space with diffuse lighting (MRUŠKOVIČ 1981, pp. 6–7).


In 1982, in an article summarizing the state of Slovakia’s architecture,

Dr. Martin Kusý publically addressed the discussion on

the SNG: “The stump of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava

that was realized on the riverbank was, without regard

to how much was known of the overall aim, quite sharply condemned.

Few would then allow that the solution of the exhibition

spaces was optimal, with excellent technical parameters

and a smooth connection to the old building, which is entirely

visible from the riverbank. The artistic comprehension that

irritates the public is focused on the large coloured surfaces

that modulate to the scale and vital pulsing betokened by the

neighbouring bridge and the heavy traffic. Most importantly,

it is still to be completed.” (KUSÝ 1982 /?/, p.?) The same year,

Tibor Zalčík and Matúš Dulla included the building in the book

Slovenská architektúra 1976–1980, in the “Massiveness of

form and shape” chapter, with more recent reviews and historiography

on the gallery, mainly in connection with the discussion

on the monumental in modern and/or socialistic architecture.

In 2001, Imro Vaško attempted to emancipate the SNG site

from locally ensconced classifications, citing Breuer’s Whitney

Museum in New York and putting the SNG in its own class of

“sculpturalism”: “The aggressive expression in both of these

architectures is no accident, it corresponds to the sculptural

tendencies of the sixties. There is no question of the period’s

brutality here, as both buildings work with, there is no recognition

of the construction materials of [Le] Corbusier and [Paul]

Rudolph’s handling of architectural concrete.” 28

Foreign architects and reviewers joined the discussion on

the character of the SNG bridging only in the new century

and millennium. The Austrian reviewer M. Hötzl – as cited in

the thesis by Tatiana Krasňanská – refers to the coarse, raw

( brachial) quality of the bridging as left-over from the modern:

28 VAŠKO, Imro. Paralely. New Ends alebo Čo nového

v New Yorských chrámoch umenia... a na Slovensku

(Boom galerijného Disneylandu). Projekt. Revue slovenskej

architektúry, 43, 2001, vol. 2, p. 25.


“Doch gerade durch diese brachiale Verkleidung wirkt die

große Struktur und stellt ein Meisterwerk dar, das längst

über die Moderne hinausgewachsen ist.” / “And by this very

instrumentality of this brachial encasement, the large structure

impresses, and represents a masterpiece that has far outgrown

the modern”. 29

In 2005 the Dutch architect Willem Jan Neutellings,

together with members of the Academy of Fine Arts architecture

department, symbolically founded the Slovak Institute

for the Preservation of Communist Monumental Architecture

Heritage. Dedeček’s completion of the SNG site is one

of three initial pieces he includes. He thereby symbolically

places this construction in the context of European communist

monumental architecture.

Sign/Symbolic : Any place the gallery’s Danube is discussed

as bridging or a bridge, it is being treated as an ostensible indication

of a bridge, or a bridge/building, and simultaneously as

an elementary sign (based on the external similarities to bridge

structure, and on the causal link of the structure with building

form). Indeed “bridging” is a technical term, which has come to

stand for the whole gallery site and expresses one of its main

architectural themes.

The current gallery director Alexandra Kusá gave an interview

in association with “various symbols” with a visitor (with a cameraman

of a film about the gallery) who still sees the SNG bridging,

now temporarily painted gray, as a “red monstrosity”. 30 This “red

monstrosity” stands for the bridging because of the period’s

ideas of something huge, amorphous and frightful, which might

serve as an allegorical epithet for the regime with no human face.

After the bridging was put into use, the side surfaces (“crosscut

edges”) were red with an “indented” bevelled facade (to be

precise, the lower edges of the indentation, as seen from below).

The facing surfaces were white, as in many of Dedeček’s educational

buildings before and after. The roof was partly glassed.

Thus the bridging could become a “red monstrosity” mainly for


a pedestrian or viewer who looked at it from the side, or from

a “worm’s eye view” that ignored the white and black surfaces.

The SNG’s extra-architectural symbolism is, compared to

other works, restrained. The site mainly takes on meanings within

architecture by means of iconic signs from a variety of historical

architectural forms. The public often reads extra-architectural

symbols, or iconic symbols, into this area site.

Relationship of form/style and sign/symbolic classification :

Typical figures are formed by the individual abstract, non-figural

forms of the SNG addition, which is one of its characteristic

features. This means it oscillates between categorizations

stylistic and extra-stylistic, sign and non-sign architecture.

The signs that come to the forefront here are mainly indexical,

while the iconic and symbolic remain more opaque or covered

over with the aforementioned pseudo-symbols.

There are many hybrids of symbols and invectives in circulation.

One of these analogized the bridging as the Old

Testament’s “red cow” to be sacrificed for the sin of adoring

the golden calf; at the time the red cow of sin (of collapsing

communism) was transforming into the white colour of innocence

(oncoming democracy)... It could also be a reference to

the “ Uncensored newspaper You Red Cow” (Necenzurované

noviny Ty rudá krávo), 31 which the Brno political commentator

Petr Cibulka published starting in 1991, parodying the rhyme

with the Communist Party’s newspaper Rudé právo. In 1992

he published a list of secret police counter-intelligence

collaborationists (“ Cibulka’s list”).

In 2008 in her text “Múzeum ako časová a receptívna architektúra”,

Jarmila Bencová pondered the SNG addition and the

29 HÖTZL, M. Bratislava im Porträt. Forum, 2003, vol. 23, p. 2.

See also KRASŇANSKÁ, Tatiana. Kompozičné princípy v tvorbe

architekta Vladimíra Dedečka (thesis). Advised by Marián Zervan.

FF Trnavskej univerzity v Trnave, 2008, 70 p.

30 KUSÁ, Alexandra. Výzva za červenú. Úvaha nad obkladovým

materiálom budovy SNG. Arch, 13, 2008, vol. 5, pp. 34–37.

31 See also the library collection Libri Prohibiti in Prague.


associated project of reconstruction and completion, to use

Michel Foucault’s terminology – in the context of his thoughts

on any archives as being the modernistic will to enclose, in one

place, all times, all epochs, all the alterations in taste, and then

to put them outside of time and its ravages. She characterized

the gallery and its addition as “... heterotopy and hetero chrony

in a compromised form”. 32 She thus formulated an interpretation

basis that is so far unique, from which she views the structure

as a relationship of various architectural and artistic times

and spaces, without categorizing it in terms of form/style or




(01) VACULÍK, Karol. Skutočnost’ Slovenskej národnej Galérie. Výtvarný život, 2,

1957, vol. 3, pp. 76–82.

(02) BELLUŠ, Emil. Budovat’ slovenskú národnú galériu. Výtvarný život, 2,

1957, vol. 3, pp. 91–94.

(03) DEDEČEK, Vladimír. Dostavba SNG v Bratislave. Študijná úloha SSA, 1963.

Textová čast’. In: Fond Karol Vaculík, Archív výtvarného umenia SNG.

(04) DEDEČEK, Vladimír. Technická správa k ÚP SNG – Bratislava. Signovaná

Dedeček, dated 15 March 1967, typewritten, 1 p. In: Oddelenie správy budov SNG.

(05) DEDEČEK, Vladimír. C 1

Technická správa k realizačnému projektu. Výstavná

čast’. Signovaná Dedeček, Piekert. Dated 15 December 1968, typewritten,

3 p. In: Oddelenie správy budov SNG.

(06) DEDEČEK, Vladimír. C 1

Technická správa k realizačnému projektu. Vedeckohospodársky

objekt. Signovaná Dedeček, Piekert, Oravcová. Dated May 1971,

typewritten, 5 p. In: Oddelenie správy budov SNG.

(07) DEDEČEK, Vladimír. Poznámky k otázkam výstavby areálu SNG v Bratislave.

Typewritten, 8 p. In: Fond Vladimír Dedeček, Zbierka architektúry, úžitkového

umenia a dizajnu SNG. Part of this text was published as: DEDEČEK, Vladimír.

Zaujímavý objekt na dunajskom nábreží v Bratislave. Nová tvár Slovenskej

národnej galérie. Technické noviny, 23, 1975, vol. 14, p. (?).

(08) NEMEC, Jaroslav. Technická správa. Interiéry SNG – Bratislava (zmena projektu).

Signed Nemec, Zvada, Krpala, dated February 1978, typewritten, 7 p. In:

Oddelenie správy budov SNG.

(09) THURZO, Igor. Budova Slovenskej národnej galérie a jej história.

Československý architekt, 24, 1978, vol. 7, pp. 4–5.

(10) VACULÍK, Karol. Nové priestory a expozície Slovenskej národnej galérie.

Výtvarný život, 22, vol. 7, pp. 12–19.

(11) [Kolektív autorov.] Záverečné technicko-ekonomické vyhodnotenie

dokončenej stavby "Rekonštrukcia a prístavba Slovenskej národnej galérie”.

Bratislava 1980, [THS, SNG, Stavoprojekt], 22 numbered pages and appendices.

(12) LIŠČÁK, Jozef. Areál Slovenskej národnej galérie v Bratislave (za Komisiu pre

kultúrne a školské stavby ÚV ZSA). Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 23,

1981, vol. 1–2, pp. 4–5.

(13) MRUŠKOVIČ, Štefan. [Areál Slovenskej národnej galérie v Bratislave]. Slovo

užívatel’a – i v mene návštevníkov. Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 23,

1981, vol. 1–2, pp. 5–9.

(14) DEDEČEK, Vladimír. [Areál Slovenskej národnej galérie v Bratislave]. Slovo

autora. Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 23, 1981, vol. 1–2, pp. 9–11.

(15) KUSÝ, Martin. Architektúra v službe človeka. Pravda, (?). In: Fond Vladimír

Dedeček, Zbierka architektúry, úžitkového umenia a dizajnu SNG.

(16) DEDEČEK, Vladimír. Východiská a činitele architektonickej tvorby troch

desat’ročí. Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 26, 1984, vol. 2, pp. 22–24.

32 BENCOVÁ, Jarmila. Múzeum ako časová a receptívna architektúra.

Projekt. Slovenská architektonická revue, 50, 2008, vol. 5, p. 29.





[1] Vladimír Dedeček, Southern/Danube wing of the Slovak National

Gallery (SNG) in Bratislava. Photography TASR/Štefan Petráš,

1977. Courtesy of the TASR/Štefan Petráš.

[2] Attributed to Franz Anton Hillebrandt /?/, Water Barracs,

1759–1763. Theresian military barracs (a casern) with demolished

southern/Danube wing before it was turned into the edifice

of the Slovak National Gallery. Photography unauthorized,

undated. Courtesy of Collection of Architecture, Applied Arts

and Design, the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.

[3] The Danube river embankment with Water Barracs without

the front wing. Photography unauthorized, undated. Courtesy

of Fine Arts Archive, the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.

44 | 45



[4–5] Vladimír Dedeček, Study for addition of southern/Danube wing, 1962. Plan and front view,

photography unauthorized, undated /1962?/. Courtesy of Collection of Architecture,

Applied Arts and Design, Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.

[6–8] Vladimír Dedeček, Study of SNG addition for the architects' association Zväz slovenských

architektov (1st alternative for site area, 2nd alternative for southern/Danube wing), 1963.

Watercolor on paper. Courtesy of Collection of Architecture, Applied Arts and Design,

Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.




46 | 47



[9–16] Vladimír Dedeček, Initial project of SNG addition (2nd alternative for site area,

3rd alternative for southern/Danube wing), 1967. Ozalid reproduction on paper,

Courtesy of Collection of Architecture, Applied Arts and Design,

the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.

[17] Vladimír Dedeček, Initial project of SNG, 1967. Model, white laminate and plexi-glass,

photography unauthorized, undated /1967?/, Courtesy of Fine Arts Archive,

the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.








48 | 49



[18–23] Vladimír Dedeček, Comprehensive solution of SNG addition for project execution

(3rd alternative for site area, 4th alternative for southern/Danube wing – the “bridging”),

1969 (additions 1979). Ozalid reproduction on paper. Courtesy of Collection of Architecture,

Applied Arts and Design, the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.

[24–25] Vladimír Dedeček, Project of SNG addition, undated /1969 or later/. Model, white laminate,

plexi-glass and other materials, photography unauthorized, undated. Courtesy of Collection

of Architecture, Applied Arts and Design, the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.







50 | 51



[26–29] Built edifices of the Slovak National Gallery Extension.

Photographs of the exterior and interior, unauthorized and undated

/Stavoprojekt and SNG, 1979–1980 and later/. Courtesy of Collection of Architecture,

Applied Arts and Design, the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava.



52 | 53






ARRANGEMENTS marián zervan, monika mitášová

We resolved the exhibition spaces as variable halls, separated

by movable exhibit panels. Spatial variability and flexibility requirements

were of our spatial solution’s fundamental axiom... To this goal

we sacrificed many of the practicable architectural/artistic results

that a fixed exhibit space would allow, graded in expression...

Our solution’s content is based exclusively on how to display Slovakia’s

— vladimír dedeček

art, rather than displaying an architectural interior. 1

The cascaded shift of exhibition levels made it possible for each of them

— vladimír dedeček

to be lit by natural daylight. 2

An open amphitheatre, with an audiovisual block using film to promote

visual art, is part of the outdoor exhibition space. There are spaces

in various wings for libraries and reading rooms, academic research,

and individual departments such as those for graphic art and restoration

studios, a laboratory and a meeting hall with an audiovisual block at

— vladimír dedeček

the border between the exhibition and research/administrative spaces. 3

1 DEDEČEK, Vladimír. [Areál Slovenskej národnej galérie

v Bratislave]. Slovo autora. Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry,

23, 1981, vol. 1–2, pp. 10–11.

2 Ibidem, p. 10.

3 Ibidem, p. 11.


The Slovak National Gallery area site came into existence over

almost twenty years, from the early 1960s to the early 1980s, in

several stages. Project documentation has been preserved for

each stage / see …site’s genesis, analysis and reflection p. 15 /. This relatively

lengthy period of design and the subsequent staged realization

meant that the form of the designed work fundamentally

changed, and the architecture was never completed as a whole.

The staging also enabled Vladimír Dedeček to work into it aspects

of his earlier solutions (such as the urbanism of the checkerboard

raster and the natural lighting methods of Bratislava’s

Secondary economics school on Ulica Februárového vít’azstva),

and to ponder them in parallel with work on other projects (such

as Bratislava’s Comenius University Natural Science faculty in

Mlynská dolina, and Bratislava-Petržalka’s Multipurpose exhibition

facility). While the SNG was conceived as a renovation of

the Vodné kasárne (Water Barracks), which after 1948 were

already in the service of the new Slovak National Gallery, but

altogether entailed razing many buildings and building a series

of new ones. Working closely with then-director of the SNG

Karol Vaculík, Vladimír Dedeček came out against the concept

of reserving the Water Barracks as the domain of older art while

housing modern and contemporary art in another appropriate

location; instead he advocated combining these two forms in

a single area site, based around the same Water Barracks.

Thus the assignment was to become the linking of two

gallery types, not in one building but in a single area. This in turn

conditioned Dedeček’s conceptual working version 4 of architecture.

First of all, it pushed the period’s preconceptions on the

gallery to be rethought, so as not to be in a single mono-block

building or a pavilion arrangement of multiple buildings, but also

in the sense of interlinking the site’s interior and exterior spaces,

and putting into contact the SNG outdoor spaces with those

of the city. Interlinking urban planning and architectural aspects

had from the first been characteristic of Dedeček’s work and

became a constant in his thinking, but the SNG project boasts

even more striking and noteworthy layering and proliferation.


These tendencies conditioned both the selection from historically

established (anterior 5 ) urban planning and architectural

forms and the use of the clusters approach. The architect’s text

on the SNG site signals the interlinking of both optics – urban

planning and architectural – in part by frequently using the word

space, and with a special emphasis on differentiation of indoor

and outdoor spaces. On the other hand his thoughts on intentional

minimizing, or downplaying, in the architectural interior, in

favour of the space under the facing wing, imply that differentiating

processes were occurring not just between outdoor and

indoor spaces, but also between indoor space and the architectural

interior. Secondly, Dedeček implemented his conceptual

working version of architecture in that this interconnection

occurred in stages. Though even early variations clearly envisage

such staging, in practice the stages crystallized into a definitive

form gradually; they thus took on the changing ideas of the time

regarding both the SNG site and architectural thought itself. This

took place not just in the architect’s project, but also through

ongoing discussion and opinions by the architectural competition

commission’s members, including Dedeček’s teacher / see

…site’s genesis, analysis and reflection p. 18, 27 /. Thus the concept is not

just a monologue, but rather the SNG site area design was

exceptional for its dialogues and even “clusters of many voices”.

Vladimír Dedeček took three approaches to developing the

concept. The first was classical composition infected by creation

of clusters on various levels. This manifested itself chiefly

in the resolution of two types of alternatives, the first of which

4 There are four identifiable working versions of architecture

in Dedeček's architectural thinking: 1. conceptual (architecture

identifies with geometric thinking or the spirit of the age as formed

in space), 2. compositional (architecture is the arrangement

of volumes, spaces and typical figures based on the relation

between symmetry and asymmetry), 3. linguistic (architecture

comes into existence by putting syllables/cells into words/

sections, sentences/sectors etc), and 4. factor-based or factorial

(architecture comes into existence by taking into consideration

a variety of factors, from the natural to the socio-cultural).

5 EISENMAN, Peter. Diagram Diaries. London :

Thames and Hudson, 1999.


was that either to allow for or to ignore context. The historical

Water Barracks building was an impulse to allow for context, as

was Harminc’s Hotel Carlton Savoy, Fuchs’ Rosenthal rental

residence and even Belluš’ Hotel Devín. The lay public understood,

and still understands, Dedeček’s solution to be an example

of acontextualism. There is some validation of this opinion in

Dedeček’s text: “We did not speculate over the relationships

in composition or arrangement between the SNG buildings

and the buildings we proposed to demolish, for a range of

objective and subjective reasons”. Yet this sentence addresses

only some of the buildings, indeed those slated for razing;

it particularly concerns a defined portion of architectural context.

Even toward the buildings not meant to be knocked down,

Vladimír Dedeček never showed a desire to play up their external

similarity or historical morphology. To the contrary: he was

building, as became customary for him, his own internal context

for the whole site. All the alternatives in his design show that

the individual SNG buildings share the inclusion of a variety of

anterior architectural and urban design forms (for the gallery this

is the amphitheatre or odeum [a roofed amphitheatre], or the

stoa and agora or forum). The completed SNG buildings are for

example raised on pillars or terraced, or have walkways or continuous

balconies running around their perimeters. Contextually,

they share facing materials; and after all there is the shared

approach to design, such as shifting and terracing... / see …site’s

genesis, analysis and reflection p. 33–37 and Architectural interpretation, p. 24, 74–75 /.

The new formation of the site’s internal contextuality is significant

in realization where, for example, the Water Barracks’ rear

facades received a new facing in common with the entire site.

This clustering of historical and contemporary surfacing is literally

“acontextual-contextual”. Such generalization of common emblems

contemporary and historical, transformed into Dedeček’s

words, created (in contrast to the exterior similarities and preservation

of historical morphology) conditions for contextuality,

both on-site and outside the site, with the neighbouring buildings

both historical and modernistic. In this way, for instance,


the stoa, peristyle or portico motifs could become a contextual

nexus between the Water Barracks and the new SNG buildings,

like the internal courtyard motif linking the SNG site to almost all

the surrounding construction: not only did Harminc apply this to

the Carlton Savoy, but also Belluš to the Hotel Devín and Fuchs

to the Rosenthal residence. The Fuchs building connects to the

SNG via the site’s terraces, i.e. to what is now Paulínyho ulica,

and the morphology of the building is influenced by the sun’s

movement through the sky. In terms of terraces, the corner residential

building on Rázusovo nábrežie originally been slated for

razing has commonalities with the SNG site. In all alternatives

proposed for the site, the configuration of the horizontal prism

of the library and study area and the vertical SNG administrative

building was composed as an inversion of the vertical Hotel

Devín and its horizontal support facilities. Placing a raised plinth

in the Water Barracks courtyard, in fact, corresponds to the terrace

placed by Hotel Devín. Beyond this, all these forms of indoor

and outdoor architectural contextuality cooperate with the urbanist

contextuality that from its inception defined the site’s design.

The Water Barracks’ location and character offered as an

area solution the interconnection of four significant urban spaces:

to begin, two large town squares (Hviezdoslavovo, and what

is now called Námestie L’udovíta Štúra) and the Hotel Devín’s

foreground. These latter, in the first alternatives, were to be access

points to the SNG as well as the riverfront; this latter was

in the period’s urban planning conceptions seen as “... the showpiece

of the city... with a very social function” / for more see …site’s

genesis, analysis and reflection p. 19 /. This could be the basis for the SNG

site area’s checkerboard raster, at the core of which is the Water

Barracks courtyard with arcaded portico connected to the riverfront.

Other fields in this checkerboard were occupied by the

amphitheatre, separated from Riečna ulica by a wall of hollow

concrete forms and interstitial space with pillars under the library;

and by the entry space by the administrative building and parking

area, on which was meant to be a garage with outdoor terrace

sculpture gallery / see …site’s genesis, analysis and reflection p. 16 /.


The administrative building’s terraces descend to Námestie

L’udovíta Štúra, as the outdoor gallery descends the opposite

way toward the new space to be created by razing the residential

buildings on Riečna ulica and Lodná ulica. Indeed, even

the facing wing, i.e. the “bridging” in an unbuilt alternative,

descended past the Hotel Devín corner through a cascading

contemporary art gallery and into the same space. When the

alternative including the outdoor gallery was not realized,

Dedeček punctuated the administrative building’s walkable

roof with a high gable, its window openings running just as

the outdoor gallery’s terraces and the cascading arrangement

of the contemporary art gallery were to descend. Among other

things, this alluded to the newly opened checkerboard field

that was both inside and above the site. This interconnection,

or to be more precise transfusion, of the city’s public spaces

with the gallery’s half-public outdoor gallery spaces, became an

urban planning contextual prerequisite for any other possible

architectural contextualities. It is literally the clustering of public

and semi-public outdoor squares on which the SNG site grew.

Another circle of alternatives brought in by Dedeček’s

compositional working version of architecture had to do with

deciding between a figurative representational or a nonfigurative

abstract building or area. At first glance, this is

a national gallery for the state and the nation with no obvious

reference to extra-architectural meanings – unless we

are tempted to consider the raised bridging and opening of

the view of the Water Barracks as a move towards representing

19 th century historicism, which is even now a sore point

in our national consciousness, and if we see the preferred

red/white colouring as identification with pan-Slavism; and

if we choose not to understand the layering of gallery floor

volumes, such as one might find in log cabins, as evocative of

folk architecture in Slovakia. The SNG area site employs no

permanent art decoration in a figurative function, as is the case

with Dedeček’s Supreme Court. This is understandable, as the

project intended the gallery to show temporary and changing


visual art in its outdoor spaces. The artworks so installed were

part of the gallery’s collections, and became an integral sign

of the gallery site’s architecture/urbanism. The bridging itself

is sometimes seen as a sculptural form, though the form came

about through the aforementioned architectural processes and

not as a sculpture. This kind of architecture reference to other

artworks, and vice-versa, can also be explained as a specific

form of extra- architectural representation.

As a counterbalance to this type of representation, a tendency

to abstraction was employed. The whole site’s architectural

forms fashion, through geometric surfaces and volumes,

abstract rasters, which in turn become frames for the

outdoor galleries and exhibits. The grids become facades in

places; in some these are large coloured surfaces that together

with the stone foundation call to mind historical architecture

(like the Water Barracks rear facade); elsewhere the proliferation

of them – as on the administrative building’s east facade –

recedes to an ambivalent play of blind red and white windows,

brise-soleil and glassless attic windows, as on the administrative

building’s west facade. Added to this dichotomy between

extra-architectural representation and abstraction, there is striking

representation within architecture dominating the site, systematizing

basic meanings in architecture: it is indeed possible

to grasp the entire site as a cluster of ancient Greek agora

analogies. Some of these are surrounded by vaulted arcade of

the Water Barracks corridors, or the pillared arcade that opens

from the hollow concrete blocks wall and mass of the library

pavilion, alluding to ancient Greek stoas. The latter are further

evoked in the heights of the continuous library balconies or administration

building walkways. The agoras are partly filled by

platforms or terraced amphitheatres, and artworks. The amphitheatre

is a dominating figure, bringing together the whole area

in dynamic balance. It fulfills two related functions: presentation

and education/communication. It can be either an interior cinema

or an exterior lecture room/odeum. The cascaded exhibition

space’s bridging levels are themselves an amphitheatre.


Indeed the amphitheatre clusters even within itself; examples

of this include the lecture hall odeum cluster with the outdoor

amphitheatre terrace above it, and clustering with other

established, anterior forms of the context. A characteristic

example is the facing, “bridging” SNG wing. The project’s initial

alternatives brought together the forms of bridge and house,

and later alternatives added the odeum. Three parallel exhibition

levels, divided by moving panels, function as a multiplied stoa.

This cluster of architectural meanings undoubtedly contributed

to the conception of the extraordinary construction/spatial

cluster of the bridging. Yet this came about from more than just

an anterior architectural forms cluster, motivated by a balancing

of architectural and urban planning aims.

The form that the concept’s next developmental phase took

is one of the central issues in Dedeček’s architectural thinking,

expressed in the polarity of mono-block/pavilion. This issue

subsumes another way that the architect links architecture

and urban planning. The SNG site was intended chiefly as an

exhibition area, and a basic need of the renovation and addition

was to increase exhibition areas. However, in discussion with

the SNG director, Vladimír Dedeček grasped the institution as

purposed for communications and research as well as exhibition.

Such a program was best suited for a pavilion arrangement.

In this sense the SNG area can be read as an effort at

interlinking contemporary pavilion buildings and the historical

form of a three-wing arrangement, with the wings – in contrast

to an enclosed four-wing form – anticipating the outcome of

separate pavilions. Pavilions can be relatively independent

monofunction units, of unrelated volumes and spaces, or differentiated

by storey as in the three-tract administration building,

which was originally designed as a mono-block. The architect’s

text implies that the monofunction administrative storeys were

hybridized to include exhibition spaces in various form. It might

be the form of “art cabinet” (study room), as was the case with

the graphics study room; or clustering a lecture and projection

hall under an outdoor terrace and a walkway hub, connecting


administration corridors with the Water Barracks problematicizing

three-tract arrangement.

The proliferation of pedestals in the administrative building’s

main stairway has an equally hybridizing effect, though functionally

this serves to differentiate the vertical passage and the

horizontal connection to hygiene facilities. The dominating pavilion

arrangement refers to the architect’s linguistic syntagmatic

working version of architecture; the rules of this were differentiated

both in program and especially in composition, with clustering

intending linking of of contextuality and meanings within

architecture. This “salami method” 6 in distributing programs in

sections led to a “domino” game of playing with them. The shifting

of pavilion storeys in the administrative building, or raising

and shifting them in the bridging, were leading to two goals: to

create clusters of galleries and terraces, and to make the courtyard

accessible; Dedeček’s agora-based urban planning for the

SNG site confirms this.

Ultimately, the third version of the elaborated concept became

the architect’s “factor-based” (factorial) working version.

The decisive factor in the formation became light in its various

forms: from direct and diffuse natural lighting to artificial varieties.

Vladimír Dedeček has on various occasions explicitly affirmed

this / see Textual interpretation, p. 55 and Architectural interpretation, p. 78 /.

Thus bringing in light was to be the regulator behind shifting

the exhibition halls of the bridging into a cluster of a hall space

and spatial levels, as proved by figurative architectural clustering

and selection of the bridge’s roofing materials. Dedeček let

the light into the SNG site differentially (the natural light in the

bridging versus the Water Barracks artificial lighting), but also

6 The first step was to order all the sections and sectors

in a continual syntagmatic sequence that is potentially open,

both in length and in height. The program of the building was

decisive in determining the sequence's closure. Here, two basic

rules run the show: typological/functional, and constructive.

Dedeček metaphorically referred to this first step as a so-called

salami method. The second step consisted of cutting this section/

sector continuum into compositional units (storeys, pavilion

wings...). Dedeček usually called this second step domino.


locked it in places (the Water Barracks’ rear facade); i.e. he

both introduced light and muted it, or blocked its sharper variations

(the administrative building’s west facade). This contradictory

playing with light was unquestionably meant to facilitate

reading of meanings within architecture.

But what do these three ways of developing the SNG site

concept in a single, contradictory unity, and what role in this

does clustering play? We presume the clustering mediates

a basic theme within architecture, that theme being the exhibiting

of art in diverse forms, expressed through clusters

of agoras, stoas and amphitheatres, or odea and pavilions.

In his text, Dedeček wrote that his solution’s content was

not meant to exhibit an architectural interior, but exclusively

to exhibit Slovakia’s art, though he certainly had in mind international

art as well. In this he gave voice to the unstated

dogma that echoes in the minds of artists and art historians

still: the architecture should be a neutral frame for visual art.

Furthermore, while Vladimír Dedeček was interested in architectural

asceticism, he decidedly was not limiting exhibiting to

the classic fine/visual arts. The bridging is a cluster fulfilling

the function of a “raised curtain”, making possible the exposition

of art on an outdoor stage and simultaneously in a historical

architecture; it also links the gallery’s exhibit spaces

with the “most exhibited” part of the city of which the SNG

was becoming part: the Danube riverfront. The amphitheatres

(with cinema) and the individual stoas are also exhibit spaces.

In some of his renderings, Dedeček himself drew sculptures

in the stoa space opening onto Riečna ulica and toward the

Hotel Devín. The theme of exhibiting, exposition and installation

thus penetrated the whole area’s outdoor and indoor

spaces, even those not primarily intended for exhibition. This

theme is likewise a test of the diversity of architectural forms

to exhibit art and architecture. In Dedeček’s words, flexibility

and variability were to be the fundamental axiom of the SNG

site’s spatial solution. Therefore, indisputably this was not

a question of mere halls and moving panels, but of the variable


and flexible interconnection of architectural and urban forms

and their figurative meanings within architecture; of clustered

established, anterior forms that would invite a variety of views

and diverse forms of exposition. The expression of this flexibility

a variability is clustering.








benjamín brádňanský, vít halada

Co-authors : monika mitášová, marián zervan

In collaboration with : andrej strieženec, mária novotná,

anna cséfalvay, danica pišteková


SNG edifice {red} in larger-scale and smaller-scale

urban contexts with surrounding cultural buildings marked

in light red, aerial view.


[d—02] Built SNG edifices {red} in their relation

to both the site and the historical Water Barracks,

axonometric view.


Unbuilt SNG edifices {red} related

to the site, built edifices and historic Water Barracks,

axonometric view.

68 | 69

[d—04] Paths of movement {red lines} in both built and unbuilt SNG edifices,

axonometric views. Interior { gallery } squares and “agoras” related

to exterior { city } “agoras” and Danube River bank, aerial view

/ see Textual interpretation, p. 59 /.


Clustering of routes {red lines} interconnecting SNG edifices

with interior { gallery } squares, axonometric view.

70 | 71

[d—06] Clusters of SNG “agoras” and “amphitheatres” {light red}

and clusters of SNG “odea” and pavilions {gray}

/ see Textual interpretation, p. 64 /, axonometric view.


Research and administrative building wing {light red} with “streets in the air”:

exterior galleries and walkable roofs {red diagonal hatching}, axonometric view.

Exhibition wing: “bridging” {light red plane} with interior exhibition galleries

{red diagonal hatching}, axonometric view.

72 | 73

[d—08] SNG interior “amphitheatres”/“odea”: cinema {darker red plane}

in administrative wing, axonometric view and 3-storey exhibition space

in bridging wing {red plane} – expanded section of the 3 layers

of amphitheatre gallery space in bridging wing

/ see Textual interpretation, p. 59, 60–61 /.

[d—09] SNG interior “amphitheatres”/“odea” { urban interior }:

Water Barracks courtyard, cinema amphiteatre, and exhibition plane

under administrative wing {red plane} related to unbuilt

exterior terrace roof-gallery situated on walkable roof of garage wing

{red diagonal hatching}, axonometric view.

74 | 75




[d—10] Two introductory proposals for SNG front wing {the Danube river wing}:

A − hypothetic reconstruction of 1 st proposal designed in 1962

{according to Dedecek’s drawing of front elevation},

B − 2 nd proposal designed in 1963, and

C − diagram of shifted floors with top lighting and subterranean telescopic

perforated wall under bridging, axonometric views

/ see Textual interpretation, p. 63–64 /



[d—11] Next phase of front wing design: 3 rd proposal designed in 1967:

D − creation of a view into courtyard by removing pilotis and first floor,

E − opening and interconnection of 3 floors into one

“amphitheatre”/“odeum” in bridging wing.

Clustering of amphitheatre, interior corridors/“streets”

and exhibition space, sections and sectional axonometric view

/ see Textual interpretation, p. 63 /.

76 | 77

[d—12] Superimposition of 1 st and 2 nd proposals of front wing:

variance. Diagram of riverbank view into courtyard with diagram of natural

gallery wing lighting {red}, sections. Two bridging wing sections:

relationship of functions, structure and form: shift of interior gallery

by half of the module { ½ A }.


Structure of bridging wing: cluster of load-bearing and supported,

suspended and consoled structures, axonometric view.

78 | 79

[d—14] Relationships of module field { M = 7.2 m × 7.2 m } to structure and form.

Perpendicular, longitudinal and vertical shift of floors: variances

in floor latitude and shifted floors. Shifted consoled floor structures

by 1/6 of module, axonometric view of administrative building.


Shifts in column structure: cluster of column frame

and diagonal supporting elements. Consoled floors,

axonometric view of administrative building.

80 | 81

[d—16] 1 st subterranean level with paths of movement marked { red },

axonometric view.


Entrance {1 st level } of administrative building with paths of movement marked,

axonometric view.

82 | 83

[d—18] 2 nd level of administrative building with paths of movement marked,

axonometric view.


3 rd level with paths of movement marked,

axonometric view.

84 | 85

[d—20] 4 th level with paths of movement marked,

axonometric view.


5 th level with paths of movement marked,

axonometric view.

86 | 87

[d—22] 6 th level with paths of movement marked,

axonometric view.


7 th level with paths of movement marked,

axonometric view.

88 | 89

[d—24] Facade rasters {according to elevations provided

for SNG reconstruction competition}, elevations.


Perpendicular and longitudinal sections.

90 | 91

[d—26] Built edifices of SNG area, axonometric view

/ see Textual interpretation, p. 55 /.

92 | 93


CHRONOLOGY monika mitášová, marián zervan


Vladimír Dedeček designed the freestanding Exhibition

Pavilion of the Slovak National Gallery for the present-day

Kamenné square (formerly Steinplatz, Kyjevské square)

in Bratislava, as his thesis project under Professor Emil

Belluš. At that time Professor Belluš also approved the area

of the former park for the extension of the SNG where the

Prior Shopping Mall 1 (Tesco since 1989) and Kyjev Hotel 2

by Ivan Matušík, a younger graduate of Belluš’s, are still

standing today.

In his thesis Dedeček designed a gallery pavilion in

the city park as a two-floor hall space (a gallery for sculpture

on the first floor and one for paintings on the second floor).

The project has not been preserved but according to the

author it featured a functionalist plan, variable exhibition spaces

and a classical column portico along the pavilion’s perimeter

designed in the spirit of the first, Stalinist phase of the Socialist

Realism, that was the centre of attention for Professor Belluš

and his students on the Faculty of Architecture, Slovak

University of Technology (SUT) in Bratislava which had been

undergoing political purges in the 1950s. 3


Professor Emil Belluš published an article on the

problems with the extension of the Slovak National Gallery

in the magazine Výtvarný život. 4

1 Dating: Competition project for Kamenné square, 1960. The

Shopping mall Prior project in Bratislava 1961–1963, construction:

1964–1968. In: ZERVAN, Marián. Ivan Matušík. Architektonické dielo

(exhibition catalogue). Bratislava: SAS, 1995, pp. 14, 32.

2 Dating: The Kyjev Hotel project in Bratislava: 1960–1968,

construction: 1968–1973. In: Ibidem, pp. 15, 32.

3 BELLUŠ, Emil. Teória architektonickej tvorby II. Stavby sociálne,

kultúrne, zdravotnícke, telovýchovné a športové (text book).

Bratislava: Štátne nakladatel’stvo v Bratislave, 1951.

4 BELLUŠ, Emil. Dobudovat’ Slovenskú národnú galériu. Výtvarný

život, 2, 1957, No. 3, pp. 91–94.



the director of the SNG Dr. Karol Vaculík consulted

with the architect Štefan Svetko over the urban planning point

of view on the construction extension of the demolished

south wing of the historical Water Barracks (1759–1763)

and, following his recommendations, he also consulted with

Vladimír Dedeček on the architectural aspects. 5


after discussions with the director of the SNG Dr. Vaculík,

Vladimír Dedeček designed the initial study for the construction

of the southern extension of Water Barracks, the Danube wing.


the Slovak Architects Society announced the assignment

of a study of the urban planning/architectural project for

the completion of construction of the Slovak National Gallery

in Bratislava. The task to complete the gallery was extended

to complete the whole corner block. Four authors, or rather

co-authors, submitted their designs: Martin Beňuška and

Štefánia Rosincová; Vladimír Dedeček; Jaroslav Fragner with

his team and Eugen Kramár with Ján Šprlák. According to

assessment records, the jury which consisted of Alojz Dařiček,

Ján Steller, L’ubomír Titl, Milan Škorupa and Karol Vaculík

evaluated the studies in the following order: 1. Dedeček,

2. Kramár and Šprlák, 3. Fragner with his team, 4. Beňuška

and Rosincová.


on 6th January the expert committee of the Slovak

Architects Society evaluated Dedeček’s design of the

new SNG building as the winning project: “The evaluation

committee, taking into account the overall assessment

of the individual solutions’ architectural and social benefits,

have put the design of Ing. Arch. Vladimír Dedeček in

first place on account of the overall urban planning and


architectural solution as well as the operational solution for the

difficult situation around the SNG and the significant adjacent

areas where the author managed to provide a solution at

a high architectural level.” 6 Work began on the initial project.

Dr. Karol Vaculík dealt with the perspective of the extension

of the SNG in the magazine Kultúrny život. 7


Vladimír Dedeček finished the initial project for

the Construction Completion and Extension of the SNG

premises. The project was submitted to the expert committee 8

of the Ministry of Education and Culture. 9 Under the direction

of Professor Belluš the committee drew up their opinion with

objections. According to later comments from the architect,

the committee described the project as “... conservative –

there is seemingly no point in adapting the scale and shape

of the extension to the surrounding and architecturally

unimportant buildings”. 10

5 Monika Mitášová’s unpublished interview with Vladimír Dedeček

in Bratislava, summer 2014 – summer 2015.

6 [Collective of authors.] Záverečné technicko-ekonomické

vyhodnotenie stavby Rekonštrukcia a prístavba SNG,

Bratislava 1979, p. 3.

7 VACULÍK, Karol. Už by mala byt’ (O perspektívach prístavby

Slovenskej národnej galérie). Kultúrny život, 19, 1964, No. 19, p. 10.

8 The expert opinions were written by prof. Dr. Ing. Jozef Harvančík,

Ing. arch. Marián Marcinka and one opinion had illegible signatures

with no names. Within the expert committee, the design was

commented by prof. Ing. arch. Emil Belluš, prof. Dr. Ing. Jozef

Harvančík, Ing. arch. Štefan Svetko for the Bratislava Chief City

Architect Office, prof. Ing. arch. Vladimír Karfík, Ing. arch. Anton

Zimmermann [Cimmermann]. Ing. arch. Jozef Lacko apologized.

See attachment to Dr. Karol Vaculík’s letter to arch. Vladimír

Dedeček from 4 September 1967. Typewritten copy, p. 19.

In: Fond Karol Vaculík, Visual Arts Archive of SNG.

9 Direction of SNC Committee for Education and Culture from 28

December 1962. The implementer was the Minister of Education

and Culture RSDr. Vasil Bil’ak. See [Collective of authors.]

Záverečné technicko-ekonomické vyhodnotenie dokončenej stavby,

Rekonštrukcia a prístavba SNG. Bratislava 1979, p. 3.

10 / see p. 99 /



a new initial project for the gallery extension with bridging

to the historical Water Barracks building on the Danube

waterfront was approved. Architect Dedeček worked on the

summary of the project solution and implementation project

for the premises of the SNG in Bratislava (construction was

to take place until the end of the 1970s). The responsible

project architects were Peter Mazanec, Mária Oravcová and

Ján Piekert. The interior architect was Jaroslav Nemec.


Vladimír Dedeček published the article: “Nová tvár

Slovenskej národnej galérie” (The New Face of the Slovak

National Gallery). 11


Dr. Martin Kusý and Genovéva Grácová wrote about the

SNG extension 12 in the magazine Slovensko on the occasion

of the completion of some parts of the building. The new

director of the SNG Štefan Mruškovič commented on the

extension 13 in the magazines Výtvarný život and Vlastivedný

časopis. Another issue of Výtvarný život contained

contributions from the dismissed director, art historian

Karol Vaculík 14 and art historian L’udmila Peterajová. 15


Igor Thurzo reviewed the SNG extension for

the Československý Architekt magazine. 16

Professor Ladislav Beisetzer wrote about the extension

to the Slovak National Gallery in his article subtitled “Dielo

a verejnost’” (Work and the Public) in the magazine Projekt:

“On the extension of the Slovak National Gallery; in brief

we could say it expresses the current level of the metal

industry. We rather expected the author's intent to express

and demonstrate the craftsmanship of a nation that has been


dealing artistically with materials since time immemorial.

The strength of this composition is the activation of the

view of the old building’s arches towards the waterfront

promenade. (...) The author’s architectural intent may be

accepted, accepted with objections or not accepted by the

recipient. (...) We must count on the fact that there are works

of architectural creation too, the same as in art that as such,

lead to new invasions. The public accepts these with difficulty

at the time when they are produced, or even criticize them.

As long as such work is based on the elaborated theory

of architecture and it conforms to it and stays programmecompliant,

it follows the development trends and becomes

style-constitutional; it is beneficial for art because it stimulates

the further deepening of innovation. (...) Thus, the awareness

that art cannot be imposed on people; that art can be

accepted or not accepted by the public at its level, is yet more

10 Vladimír Dedeček. Areál Slovenskej národnej galérie v Bratislave.

Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 23, 1981, No. 1–2, p. 9.

“Ing. Marcinka objected against the dominant solution of the

administrative building that is inconsistent with the exhibition

premises’ main function and its architectural form.” In: DEDEČEK,

Vladimír. Technická správa k alternatívnemu riešeniu ÚP SNG,

typewritten copy. Bratislava 11 June 1967, p. 1. Fond Vladimír

Dedeček, Zbierka architektúry, dizajnu a úžitkového umenia SNG.

11 DEDEČEK, Vladimír. Nová tvár Slovenskej národnej galérie.

Technické noviny, 8 April 1975, No. 14, p. 5.

12 KUSÝ, Martin – GRÁCOVÁ, Genovéva. Slovenská národná galéria.

Slovensko, 1, 1977, No. 3, p. 4–5.

13 See MRUŠKOVIČ, Štefan. Expozície Slovenskej národnej galérie

v Bratislave znovuotvorené. Vlastivedný časopis, 26, 1977, No. 3,

pp. 97–101 and idem. Pred novou etapou Slovenskej národnej

galérie. Výtvarný život, 22, 1977, No. 7, pp. 11–12. Two years later

he also published the anniversary text: MRUŠKOVIČ, Štefan.

Slovenská národná galéria tridsat’ročná. Vlastivedný časopis, 28,

1979, No. 2, pp. 74–76.

14 VACULÍK, Karol. Nové priestory a expozície Slovenskej národnej

galérie. Výtvarný život, 22, 1977, No. 7, pp. 12–19.

15 PETERAJOVÁ, L’udmila. Slovenská národná galéria po dvadsiatich

rokoch. Výtvarný život, 22, 1977, No. 7, pp. 20–23.

16 THURZO, Igor. Budova Slovenskej národnej galérie a jej história.

Československý architekt, 24, 1978, No. 7, pp. 4–5.

A piece of information on SNG was also published one year later:

ČAPKA, B.[?] Slovenská národní galérie v Bratislavě.

Československý architekt, 25, 1979, No. 7, p. 8.


pressing. The architectural works that have not been accepted

are in a worse position because they are tolerated and yet

fixed in their concrete foundations for decades.” 17


part of the Slovak National Gallery building

in Bratislava was completed and a final inspection made.

The whole premises have never been completed.

in his book Československá architektura 1945–1977

(Czechoslovak Architecture 1945–1977 ), the architect

and historian Josef Pechar compared the SNG extension

to Czech architect Prager’s work, this time to the building

of the Federal Assembly of the Czechoslovak Federal

Republic in Prague (together with Kadeřábek and Albrecht,

the construction took place between 1966–1973, the

headquarters of Slobodná Európa Radio since 1995, currently

one of the buildings of the National Museum in Prague).

The four wings of the Federal Assembly are structurally

designed as bridge beams on end supports, similar to the

front wing of the SNG. “In many cases today we see ways

in which architecture copes with the large dimensions of

steel structures and industrial design which has an ingenious

impact on the outer architectural form as well as the

interior.” 18 In this text, Pechar regards Prager’s and Dedeček’s

buildings as innovations in construction and material

on one side and as new sources of the current architectural

form on the other.


the photography publication Soudobá architektura

ČSSR 19 (Current Architecture of the CSSR ) by Jaroslav

Veber also featured the extension of the SNG in Bratislava.

Czech architectural historian Radomíra Sedláková described

it in the book as a layer arrangement of the robust bridging

volumes that give a new scale to the whole surrounding


area. 20 The monumentality of the bridging was, in her opinion,

in contrast to the more delicate structure of the arcade

courtyard of the historical Water Barracks building. The

bridging is: “an object that is structurally courageous but

architecturally somewhat contradictory.” 21 In other words: the

greater is the contrast in scale, the greater is the architectural

“contradiction”. While modernists understood monumentality as

an expression of spiritual and cultural needs (in their view it was

only possible at a time when an unifying knowledge and culture

existed, representing the new spirit and collective feeling of the

modern post-war times in cooperation with all artists 22 ), this

modern view of monumentality – i.e. an innovative synthesis

of old layers with new ones – was not considered to be the

result of the social consensus at the beginning of the 1980s.

What came to the fore in the historical centres of European

cities was the maintenance of the layers and scales of historical

architecture and the various forms of transfer between historical

and current architecture in the post-modern way of thinking and

urban planning and architectural design.


a set of articles on the SNG building was published

in Slovak architectural magazine Projekt. It contained a text

by Jozef Liščák (for the Slovak Architects Society Committee

17 BEISTZER, Ladislav. Väzby architektúry. Dielo a verejnost’. Projekt.

Revue slovenskej architektúry, 20, 1978, No. 9–19, pp. 67–68.

18 PECHAR, Josef. Československá architektura 1945–1977.

Praha: Odeon, 1979, p. 38.

19 VEBR, Jaroslav – NOVÝ, Otakar – VALTEROVÁ, Radomíra. Soudobá

architektura ČSSR. Praha: Panorama, 1980, p. 129 [Parallel

introductory text of the chapter signed: rav. (Radomíra Valterová)].

20 Ibidem, pict. No.112, p. 137..

21 Ibidem.

22 SERT, José Luis – LÉGER, Fernand – GIEDION, Siegfried.

Neun Punkte über Monumentalität – Ein menschliches Bedürfnis

[1943]. In: GIEDION, Siegfried. Architektur und Gemeinschaft:

Tagebuch einer Entwicklung. Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1956, pp. 40–42.

Quotation according to: SERT, José Luis – LÉGER, Fernand –

GIEDION, Siegfried. Nine Points of Monumentality. In: OCKMAN,

Joan: Architecture Culture 1943–1968. A Documentary Anthology.

New York: Rizzoli 1993, pp. 29–30.


for Cultural and Educational Buildings) together with a text

by the author of SNG (Author's comments). The new director

of the SNG Štefan Mruškovič 23 also gave his critical view

as the user.


historians Tibor Zalčík and Matúš Dulla mentioned several

of Dedeček's buildings in their book Slovenská architektúra

1976–1980 (Slovak Architecture 1976–1980 ). They put the

Slovak National Gallery building together with works such as

the Community Centre in Dunajská Streda by Jozef Slíž, Eva

Grébertová and Alexander Braxatoris and the House of Arts in

Piešt’any by Ferdinand Milučký in the chapter “Mohutnost’ formy

a tvaru” (The massiveness of form and shape) compiled as the

Slovak analogy or parallel of the international movement of new

brutalism in Great Britain. “This visual-art expression, however,

has not reached the extreme brutal forms in our country and

it has always been softened, mainly by the introduction of the

classic harmonic principles of human-scale composition.” 24

The authors of the book – in line with the magazine

articles of architect and historian Dr. Martin Kusý – stated that

the strong point of the gallery extension was the generosity

and the extent of the intention 25 to construct the first gallery

building ever to exhibit modern art in Slovakia (generosity

seems here to represent another, more acceptable side

of the coin of the criticized hugeness, massiveness replacing

the more complex concept of monumentality). They also

saw the visual effect of the contrast between the horizontal

lines of the new wing and the arcade arches of the historical

building as a strong point of the SNG bridging.

The “colossal scale” of the SNG front façade and its

“insensitive connection to neighbouring buildings” was

considered less convincing. 26 Zalčík and Dulla also criticized

the symmetrical composition relationships between the

historical building and the new front wing (bridging) with

the asymmetrical operation (entrance to the building in the right


front “corner” of the courtyard). In fact they described the

whole courtyard and the area under the front Danube wing,

i.e. the bridging, as non-functional. “The solution of the back

wing together with its material and colour finish is also

contradictory from the composition point of view.” 27 At the

same time they admitted that these contradictions are also

derived from the incomplete and unfinished implementation

of Dedeček's design and observed that if the building had

been finished in its entirety according to Dedeček’s project,

the contradiction would have been “partially moderated”. 28

23 See DEDEČEK, Vladimír. [Areál Slovenskej národnej galérie

v Bratislave]. Slovo autora. Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry,

23, 1981, No. 1-2, pp. 9–11; LIŠČÁK, Jozef. Areál Slovenskej

národnej galérie v Bratislave (za Komisiu pre kultúrne a školské

stavby ÚV ZSA). Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 23, 1981,

No. 1-2, pp. 4–5; MRUŠKOVIČ, Štefan. 1981. [Areál Slovenskej

národnej galérie v Bratislave]. Slovo užívatel’a – i v mene

návštevníkov. Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 23, 1981,

No. 1-2, pp. 5–9. See also OHRABLO, František – ČERNÍK, Peter.

Zasklená strecha nad výstavným objektom SNG. Projekt. Revue

slovenskej architektúry, 23, 1981, No. 1-2, p. 15.

24 ZALČÍK, Tibor – DULLA, Matúš. Slovenská architektúra 1976–1980.

Bratislava: Veda, 1982, p. 63.

25 Ibidem, p. 72.

26 “The massive steel construction bridges a 54,5 m span, enabling

visual interconnection and views from the waterfront to the glassed

arcades of the courtyard. This interconnection and contrast

of horizontal lines of the new wing with the arcade arches represent

the strong points of the visual-art effect of the gallery's architecture.

The colossal scale of the front façade as well as its insensitive

connection to neighbouring buildings are less convincing.

The author himself admitted that evaluators' wishes had forced

him to a jump in which he felt the scale and framework of the

environment as well as the material and technical possibilities

had been exceeded.” In: ibidem, p. 65.

27 Ibidem.

28 “It needs to be observed that the building has not been finished

in the range envisaged by the original project. The completion

of the whole unit would have partially moderated the contrast with

the surrounding housing. The overall contrast and the dimensional

pathos that make primary impression and that are, together with

elementary geometric forms used, also characteristic for other

author’s works, could be considered positive if they were not

accompanied by some disturbing moments that we have briefly

pointed out.” In: ibidem, pp. 65–66.



journal Výtvarný život published an article by L’ubomír

Podušel called Slovenská národná galéria o budúcnosti

(The Slovak National Gallery about the future) 29 .


the former director of the SNG Dr. Karol Vaculík published

a catalogue/publication 30 dedicated to the history of the

gallery on its 40th anniversary. An article on the construction

of this institution was also published by an actual director

Dr. Mruškovič in Výtvarný život 31 .


in his article “Hriechy architektúry” (The Sins of

Architecture), Professor Štefan Šlachta, architect, historian,

(after 1989) post-revolution Dean of The Academy of Fine

Arts and Design in Bratislava and politician, commented

on Dedeček’s Archive and the Supreme Court buildings in

Bratislava as well as on the question of context or lack of

context of Dedeček's extension of the SNG: “One of the

dominant architectural sins is the Slovak National Gallery –

more precisely the extended part of the old Water Barracks.

(...) The aggressiveness of the mass of the gallery towards the

neighbouring objects is the first characteristic mistake of the

author's concept. (...) The misunderstanding of the “genius

loci” is most distinctively documented by the solution of the

gallery courtyard. More precisely the former courtyard that

used to be here but ‘left’ with the new solution. (...) Although

the filled and elevated area of the court has created space

to exhibit sculptures, it has destroyed the possibility of their

cultural perception and feeling.” 32


Slovak magazine Projekt published a review of mentioned

Dedeček’s building of the Supreme court of Slovak Socialist

Republic in Bratislava. The authors of the review, architects


Bohuslav Kraus and Ján Kodoň, also assessed this building

in the context of the gallery extension: “the construction [of the

court], a huge toothy colossus, has immediately controlled the

whole space and has imposed its characteristic image upon it,

which has been well known since the time of the construction

of the Slovak National Gallery on the Danube waterfront”. 33


an article by L’ubomír Podušel was published on

the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment

of the SNG 34 .


in the book Dejiny Slovenského výtvarného umenia.

20. storočie (History of Slovak Fine Arts in the 20 th Century),

edited by Zora Rusinová historian Matúš Dulla dedicated one

sentence to Dedeček's SNG extension and in fact to all of his

works: “The courageous shaping (although with a number of

constructional imperfections) of the extension of the SNG

in Bratislava by Vladimír Dedeček (1969–1979) has caught

contradictory notice”. 35


a public panel discussion was held on 21 st March in

the closed bridging – the exhibition space of the SNG

29 PODUŠEL, L’ubomír. Slovenská národná galéria o budúcnosti.

Výtvarný život, 32, 1987, No. 3, pp. 23–24.

30 VACULÍK, Karol: Slovenská národná galéria v slovenskej kultúre.

Bratislava: SNG, Tatran, 1988, p. 70.

31 MRUŠKOVIČ, Štefan. Štyridsat’ rokov Slovenskej národnej galérie.

Výtvarný život, 33, 1988, No. 6, pp. 1–2.

32 ŠLACHTA, Štefan. Hriechy architektúry. Príroda a spoločnost’,

39, 1990, No. 20, p. 18.

33 KRAUS, Bohuslav – KODOŇ, Ján. Budova Najvyššieho súdu

Slovenskej republiky v Bratislave. Projekt. Revue slovenskej

architektúry, 33, 1991, No. 7–8, pp. 47–49, p. 47.

34 PODUŠEL, L’ubomír. Slovenská národná galéria pät’desiatročná.

Pamiatky a múzeá, 48, 1999, No. 1, pp. 28–32.

35 DULLA, Matúš. Architektúra od moderny k sorele a spät’ 1950–

1970. In: RUSINOVÁ, Zora (ed.). Dejiny slovenského výtvarného

umenia. 20. storočie. Bratislava: SNG, 2000, p. 227.


south Danube wing (closed due to it’s state of serious

disrepair), dedicated to the possibility of the demolition,

repair, reconstruction and modernisation of the SNG

building. The discussion 36 was accompanied by an exhibition

of documents regarding the historical Water Barracks

building and the design documentation of the SNG premises

by Vladimír Dedeček. Curator Alexandra Kusá.

There were several calls for the construction of a new

gallery building; the only difference in them was their

aim to repair, reconstruct or demolish the SNG bridging.

The “... possibility of removing the construction” was openly

presented only by Professor Štefan Šlachta: “Personally,

I would prefer to look for a way of having a new gallery,

to seek a new solution, because this reconstruction would

be very problematic and I am sure it would be twice as

expensive as a new building. (...) Of course it is my personal

opinion, but if each visit to the national gallery makes me

feel frustrated, I think it is not a good national gallery.” 37

A similar viewpoint was indirectly presented by the architect

Ján Bahna who designed the reconstruction of the Water

Barracks building in the 1990s and had also been working

on the whole premises with his students in his architectural

studio in Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava.

He questioned the structure's load capacity if there would

be changes in the facing or an additional superstructure,

which was immediately disproved by the objective arguments

of the building's structure engineer Jindřich Trailin.

The former Bratislava Chief City Architect Štefan Svetko

also presented his critical view of SNG building (he had had

a crucial role in the change of the front wing concept, which

he did not hide). Svetko did not support the disassembly

or demolition (“slum-clearance”) of the bridging. Interestingly

objective supportive viewpoints were presented not only

by both of the involved structure engineers Jindřich Trailin

and Jiří Kozák but also by the co-founding director of former

state architectural company Stavoprojekt Professor Štefan


Lukačovič, Dedeček's peers Il’ja Skoček, Ferdinand Milučký

and architects from the younger generation, Martin Kusý,

Ivan Gürtler, Branislav Somora and Boris Hrbáň. Architectural

historian Henrieta Moravčíková and art historians L’uba

Belohradská and Zuzana Bartošová did not support the

possibility of demolition. The sculptor Jozef Jankovič had critical

comments not only on the inadequate function of the gallery

for contemporary art exhibitions but also on the relationship

between the state and the national gallery – he requested

the creation of a contemporary art museum, an art-industry

museum and a contemporary art gallery – a kunsthalle.

The whole discussion that criticized the current cultural

and political situation then gave the impression of favouring

the renewal of the front wing, criticizing the state's inability

to construct buildings for new public cultural institutions and

to care for the existing ones. The questions from the architect

Jaroslav Kilián showed the context of Dedeček's project:

“And so my question is: why should we tear down this

particular gallery? Why not the Danube hotel or something

else? (...) Bratislava started to develop the waterfront

at the end of the last century. This process took place

somewhere under the statue of Maria Theresa, then there

was a break, then Belluš came to continue the process

36 Architects Martin Kusý as the president of Slovak Architects

Society; Branislav Somora as the chairman of Slovak Chamber

of Architects; Ján Bahna, Ivan Gürtler, Jaroslav Kilián, Ivan Matušík

and architects-historians Henrieta Moravčíková and Štefan Šlachta

accepted the invitation of art historian Katarína Bajcurová, the

general director of the Slovak National Gallery, and architecture

historian Dana Bořutová, member of SNG Science Council to

take part in the discussion. The discussion participants also

included architects Štefan Lukačovič, Štefan Svetko, Il’ja Skoček,

Ferdinand Milučký, Jaroslav Liptay, Jozef Šoltés, sculptor Jozef

Jankovič, art historians L’uba Belohradská, Zuzana Bartošová

as well as structural engineers Jindřich Trailin and Jiří Kozák, former

employees of Dedeček’s studio in the state architectural company

Stavoprojekt. The discussion was moderated by art historian

Dana Bořutová. Architect Vladimír Dedeček apologized for his

absence in the panel discussion.

37 [Not signed.] Budúcnost’ premostenia – budúcnost’ SNG? Projekt.

Revue slovenskej architektúry, 43, 2001, No. 2, p. 6.


and demolished this square. (...) I would, however, rather look

at the circumstances in which this work was created. High

façades were built in the direction of the waterfront – the

Devín hotel block – and in the rear there are restaurant areas

situated in lower positions whose scale is nearer to the older

housings. Dedeček actually did the same. When I look at the

reconstruction of the Carlton Hotel, the impression you get

from behind the gallery is much bigger in silhouette than the

gallery. That is why these arguments are not so convincing.

(...) The concept of this object [SNG] is exceptional because

it has been a source of discussion from the beginning.

I suppose in twenty years, when we search for objects

whose concept is characteristic of the 1960s and 1970s, this

building will be proposed as a national cultural monument.

Maybe some people do not like to hear this but I think it is

hard to assess the architecture of this period today.” 38

the curator of the document exhibition Dr. Alexandra Kusá,

architects Jaroslav Liptay, Marin Mašek and Peter Žalman as

well as the director of the Slovak Architects Society Peter

Mikloš commented on the history and future of the SNG

building in the magazines Projekt and Arch. 39 Architect Imrich

Vaško compared Dedeček's extension to the late-modern

gallery institutions in the USA. 40

in April – May, the journal Bratislavské noviny published

a series of articles regarding the question of the SNG bridging.

They included opinions from invited participants and were

published under the name “Premostenie galérie by malo

nahradit’ niečo, s čím sa stotožní väčšina Bratislavčanov

(diskusia)” (Gallery bridging should be replaced by something

that most citizens of Bratislava can identify with (discussion). 41

Ministry of Culture spokesperson Juraj Puchý: “The most

acceptable alternative, for now, seems to be to maintain

the SNG bridging. The College of the Ministery of Culture has

recently discussed this question. They have recommended


not only to reconstruct the whole object but also to rebuild

it so that it can best suit its purpose. It means not only to fix

its state of disrepair, the leaks and similar deficiencies but also

to make the bridging or the whole building operational. The

details of how it could be done are still being discussed.” 42

Štefan Holčík, the director of the Archaeological Museum

of Slovak National Museum, supported the possibility

of tearing down the bridging, while also accepting a rebuild:

“... If I had the power, I would have the extension of the

Slovak National Gallery, the so called ‘bridging’, demolished

without further obstructions. But I understand the viewpoint of

the SNG director who fears the gallery would lose the storage

and exhibition spaces that it needs. However, the ‘modern’

south wing, which is the sticking point, can be adjusted,

rebuilt, humanized. We can find plenty of examples of this

in Europe.” 43

The demolition was consistently supported by Professor

Štefan Šlachta, although in a much sharper way than in

the recent personal discussions in SNG, as a then member

of parliament (1998–2002), under the text he was credited

38 Ibidem, p. 7.

39 See KUSÁ, Alexandra. K výstavbe Slovenskej národnej galérie.

(Výber z faktografie). Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 43,

2001, No. 2, p. 17 and aedem. Vladimír Dedeček – rekonštrukcia

a prístavba Slovenskej národnej galérie. Projekt. Revue slovenskej

architektúry, 43, 2001, No. 2, pp. 18–19. See also LIPTAY, Jaroslav.

Potrebujeme národnú galériu? Pokus o premostenie problémov

“premostenia.” (SNG). Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 43,

2001, No. 3, pp. 68–69; MAŠEK, Martin. Prístavba SNG kontra

katalógový gýč. Arch, 6, 2001, No. 3, p. 2; MIKLOŠ, Peter.

Ako Slovenská národná galéria získala svoje sídlo. Projekt. Revue

slovenskej architektúry, 43, 2001, No. 3, pp. 66–67 and ŽALMAN,

Peter. Niekol’ko poznámok k aktuálnej téme SNG Bratislava.

Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 43, 2001, No. 2, p. 19.

40 VAŠKO, Imro. Paralely. New Ends alebo Čo nového v New Yorských

[newyorských] chrámoch umenia... a na Slovensku... (Boom

galerijného Disneylandu). Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 43,

2001, No. 2, pp. 20–25.

41 Premostenie galérie by malo nahradit’ niečo, s čím sa stotožní

väčšina Bratislavčanov (diskusia). Bratislavské noviny, 4,

19 April 2001, No. 8, p. 6.

42 Ibidem.

43 Ibidem.


not as an MP but as “the former dean of the Academy of

Performing Arts [sic!, Academy of Fine Arts and Design, AFAD

in Bratislava]”: “... The first discussion, which was held in

the SNG, showed that the gallery management supported

the preservation of the current state, based on the fictitious

idea that a reconstruction will cost less and a new building

will cost more. Some of the present designers, art historians

and architects also declared that in their opinion the building

should be preserved. The arguments used to support this

opinion were, however, very vague. Statements such as those

saying that a new gallery would ‘surely’ be more expensive,

that the disassembly of the existing construction will be an

insuperably problem, that it is ‘iconoclastic’ having no place

in the beginning of the 21 st century, that the only reason for

the removal of the existing object is the fact that it is a symbol

of socialism, that it is actually good architecture, an example

of an ‘alternative modern style’ or that it is already almost

a cultural monument, are unconvincing and unacceptable for

me. (...) I personally would prefer to disassemble the existing

bridging. I am sure that the persons in charge must find the

courage for such solutions. I have myself protected many

pieces of modern architecture from demolition or inappropriate

interventions. But it has always been in the case of good

architecture. In this case I am convinced that this is bad

architecture. The Slovak National Gallery building should be,

as such, a piece of art. Take some examples – Guggenheim

in New York, MOMA [sic!, MOCA] in Los Angeles, Sainsbury

Wing in London, Hirshorn [Hirshhorn] in Washington,

examples of new galleries and museums in Bonne, Frankfurt,

Stockholm, Helsinki etc. There is no doubt Slovakia and

Bratislava have the architectural potential to be able to

cope with this problem with dignity, to enrich Bratislava and

represent Slovakia, its architecture and culture.” 44

The opinion of another discussion participant with

executive political power, this time in municipal politics, the

Old City Mayor Andrej Ďurkovský was similarly consistent:


“Bratislava, unfortunately, has inherited several buildings from

the period of socialistic planning that are subject to justified

criticism from the point of view of their effect on city urban

planning as well as from the point of view of their particular

architectural expression. Some of them are even very technical

works (e.g. Nový most bridge) but their negative effect on

the organism of the city is indisputable. / However, I have

no right to be a judge of the past. Moreover, architecture is

not an exact discipline; it is much closer to art and provokes

aesthetic feelings that can vary and differ among individuals.

/ It is one of the reasons why I will limit my comments on

the controversial extension of the Slovak National Gallery

to an observation that is currently most important for me as

a municipal politician: the extension building is non-functional.

We would all incur very high expenses if we tried to

reconstruct it so that it could fully serve its purpose. I definitely

support the possibility of tearing down and replacing it with

something that the majority of the Bratislava and Slovak public

can identify with. In the meantime, the Ministry of Culture

should address the problem of where to put the artworks that

have been to date been housed in the extension building.” 45

The head of the Department of Monuments Protection at

the Monuments Board in Bratislava architect Viera Dvořáková

stated the viewpoint of the Board: “In the 1970s the extension

solved the urgent lack of space in the Slovak National Gallery.

Its appropriateness or inappropriateness in relation to its value

as a cultural monument should have been assessed during

the period of its design and preparation. / Because from the

point of view of general cultural heritage protection, the status

quo, i.e. the bridging, is a part of it regardless of the era,

the ideology with which the building is connected. We would

like to point out that tearing down the building will require

an answer to the question: what happens next? Given the

negative past experiences it is necessary to consider things

thoroughly and BEFOREHAND. We do not think that there

44 Ibidem.

45 Ibidem.


[is] a need to build any more so called replicas

in Bratislava.” 46

According to the readers' survey, there were

425 respondents to the question, published on the web site

of this journal before the issue was published: “Should the

extension of the SNG be torn down or not?”. Respondents'

votes: no = 7,5 %, yes = 92,5 % (the editorial staff informed

the readers that attempts to vote repeatedly from one

computer had been blocked).

on 23 rd May an Opinion on the architecture of the

extension of the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava was

established and published with the name Zachovat’ znamená

tvorit’ (To maintain means to create). 47 Winners of the

Emil Belluš Prize, representatives of the Slovak Architects

Society and the Slovak Chamber of Architects, SUT and

AFAD architects-pedagogues and other persons supported

the preservation of the SNG bridging: “We openly say that

the alternative ‘tearing it down’ is unacceptable to us. (…)” 48

The signatories in the order in which they appear beneath the

statement: Tibor Alexy, Andrej Alexy, Ján Bahna, Michal Bogár,

Ivan Gürtler, Karol Chudomelka, Rastislav Janák, L’ubomír

Králik, Martin Kusý, Dušan Kuzma, Ivan Matušík, Ferdinand

Milučký, Pavel Paňák, Štefan Svetko, Branislav Somora, Robert

Špaček, Imrich (Imro) Vaško, L’ubomír Závodný, Peter Žalman,

Miloslav Mudrončík, Boris Hrbáň, Jozef Šoltés, Ladislav Kmet’,

Dušan Čupka, Marta Ščepková, Dušan Bók, Igor Teplan and

Jozef Chrobák.


in the chapter “Moderna značne neskorá” (Modern style

significantly late) the history book: Architektúra Slovenska

v 20. storočí 48 (Slovak Architecture in the 20 th century ) by

Dulla and Moravčíková returns to the question of pre-revolution

(before 1989) monuments as courageous national colossi

that became “empty” or more precisely were emptied during


socialism: “Some kind of compensation for the historical

shortage of national institutions was represented by big

unique projects, monuments of national culture. In addition

to the radio building in Bratislava, there emerged the Matica

slovenská building in Martin, the Television Centre in

Bratislava and the extension of the Slovak National Gallery.

(...) The architect of the [SNG] complex Vladimír Dedeček

embodied the spirit of the period with his spacious works

that boldly and self-confidently repeated a single shape motif

and are full of silent emptiness. On the site of the distant

competitors of the University City, there are the shabby torsos

of the Comenius University faculties and on the opposite side,

a little down the river Danube, there is the torso of the new

Incheba in the Bratislava trade fair and exhibition hall (...).

None of the Slovak architects has found the sane courage

to make an object from such colossal elements as, let's say,

the bridge in the Incheba exhibition building that connects

the skyscraper with the exhibition halls or to use layered

broken lines in such a repeating fashion as those in the

Bratislava dormitories (...) or in the Regional political school

in Modra-Harmónia. (...) In Dedeček's work, as he said

himself, ‘to a great extent the construction work’ directly

affects ‘the quality of architecture’ [ Projekt, 1984, No. 2,

p. 23–24 ]. There is no wonder that his buildings became

the subject of sharp criticism after 1989. Their bold, abstract

and empty beauty was disregarded and only the symbols

of an overthrown regime could be seen in them”. 49


From 10 March to 20 May, the first competition for the

Reconstruction and Modernisation of the SNG building

46 Ibidem.

47 Zachovat’ znamená tvorit’. Stanovisko k architektúre objektu

dostavby Slovenskej národnej galérie v Bratislave (petition).

Fórum architektúry, 24, 2001, No. 7–8, p. 11.

48 DULLA, Matúš – MORAVČÍKOVÁ, Henrieta. Architektúra Slovenska

v 20. storočí. Bratislava: Slovart, 2002, p. 511.

49 Ibidem, pp. 226–227.


in Bratislava was announced. The jury comprised of Katarína

Bajcurová, Andrej Petrek, Dušan Bálent, Gustav Peichl,

Dana Bořutová, Milan Knížák, Emil Přikryl, Jan Tabor, Norbert

Šmondrk (Emil Přikryl was elected chairman of the jury to

replace the absent Gustav Peichel and he was replaced by

Marek Chalupa). They awarded two first prizes ex aequo

to the design of Juraj Koban and Štefan Pacák (studio KOPA)

and to the design of Il’ja Skoček jr. – Matúš Vallo – Oliver

Sádovský. The second prize was not awarded. The third prize

was awarded to David Kopecký – Ján Studený – Martin Vojta –

Oldřich Skyba. The competition results were not implemented

and two years later the gallery management announced

a new competition.

the question of the competition for the reconstruction

of the SNG and extension were again addressed in the

press in the Projekt and Arch magazines. The director of the

SNG, Dr. Katarína Bajcurová, and the architectural historian

Dr. Henrieta Moravčíková commented on them. An interview

with the chairman of the jury, the Austrian architect Gustav

Peichl was also published. 50


Dedeček's SNG building in Bratislava was opened to

visitors as a part of Days of Architecture. On this occasion,

the architect Peter Žalman published a text 51 based on

interviews with Vladimír Dedeček.


on 7th April, following his lecture at the AFAD in Bratislava

the Dutch architect Willem Jan Neutellings founded the

symbolical Slovak Institute for the Preservation of Communist

Monumental Architectural Heritage (SIPCMAH) (Slovenský

inštitút ochrany pamiatok komunistickej monumentálnej

architektúry (SIOPKMA)) together with architects Imro

Vaško, Zoltán Holocsi, Benjamín Brádňanský and Vít Halada


(Department of Architecture of AFAD in Bratislava).

The three “founding works” were: A) Slovak Radio building by

Svetko's collective, B) Dedeček's SNG extension and

C) Jurica – Kozák – Májek – Tomašák's Television transmitter

in Bratislava on Kamzík Hill.

on 23 rd May the procurement process for the design

study for the reconstruction and modernisation of the SNG

buildings in Bratislava was announced. The jury comprised of:

Gustav Peichl (chairman), Peter Pelčák, Andrej Hrausky,

Peter Vitko, Peter Moravčík, Katarína Bajcurová, Andrej Zmeček

and Martin Mašek. They awarded the first prize to Martin Kusý

and Pavol Paňák (Architekti BKPŠ, s. r. o. studio), the second

prize to Eduard and Andrej Šutek (BKPŠ studio) and the third

prize to Gabriel Drobniak – Gabriel Zajíček – Dušan Jurkovič

– Matúš Ivanič.

in an interview with Samuel Abrahám for the Kritika

a kontext magazine, the Bratislava Chief City Architect

Professor Štefan Šlachta returned to the question of socialist

urban planning and the discussion on the relationship between

architecture and totalitarian power: “I think the power was

mainly manifested in the demolition of, let's say, parts of

the Old Town but not only in Bratislava. The authorities tore

50 See: LICHVÁROVÁ, Mária. Rozhovor s profesorom Gustavom

Peichlom. Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry, 45, 2003, No. 4,

pp. 32–33. MIKLOŠ, Peter. S generálnou riaditel’kou SNG Katarínou

Bajcurovou (rozhovor). Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry,

45, 2003, No. 4, pp. 26. MORAVČÍKOVÁ, Henrieta. Sút’až na

rekonštrukciu a modernizáciu areálu Slovenskej národnej galérie.

Arch, 8, 2003, No. 6, pp. 16. [Not signed.] Architektonická sút’až.

Rekonštrukcia a modernizácia areálu SNG v Bratislave. Projekt.

Revue slovenskej architektúry, 45, 2003, No. 4, pp. 14–55.

[Not signed.] Sút’až na SNG a súvislosti. Arch, 8, 2003, No. 6, p. 40.

Sút’ažné návrhy na rekonštrukciu a modernizáciu areálu Slovenskej

národnej galérie v Bratislave. Arch, 8, 2003, No. 6, p. 18–39.

See also KUSÁ, Alexandra. K histórii problematiky Slovenskej

národnej galérie. Arch, 8, 2003, No. 6, pp. 13–15.

51 ŽALMAN, Peter. Pohl’ad spät’. Dni architektúry 2004 pripomenuli

aj tvorbu Vladimíra Dedečka. Projekt. Revue slovenskej architektúry,

46, 2004, No. 3, pp. 61–64.


down and changed the character of cities from Ružomberok

to Považská Bystrica, Brezová pod Bradlom etc. I believe

that the totalitarian power can particularly be seen in urban

planning. (...) Cities lost their original character and became

disrupted urban structures that today, after 1990, are hard to

stick back together again. It is there where the totalitarianism

can be felt.” 52

Professor Šlachta again summarized the opinion expressed

in the public discussion at the SNG: “It is not important

if I like it [the architecture of SNG] or not. Some may like it,

some may dislike it. For me it is a very aggressive piece of

architecture that does not belong in this environment.” 53

Even now on this occasion he did not reply to his own

question: “I failed to find out who decided that the winning

design for this competition would be V. Dedeček's

submission. (...) The project that was implemented later was

approved by the Ministry of Culture Committee with Ing.

arch. Ivan Šimko, Ing. Šimon Luběna [Kuběna], Ing. Šoula as

experts, all of them from the former Ministry of Construction

and Technology, plus Professor Martin Kusý.” 54


on 29 th March the newspaper Bratislavské noviny

published information about the decision of the Slovak

government to reconstruct the SNG and an interview 55

by Juraj Handzo with the general director of the SNG

Katarína Bajcurová. The statements 56 of one of the

co-authors of the reconstruction, architect Martin Kusý,

were also published on this occasion. The articles triggered

a new wave of criticism by the adversaries of the gallery.

Professor Matúš Dulla again – this time in the introduction

to the architectural guide Slovenská architektúra od Jurkoviča

po dnešok (Slovak Architecture from Jurkovič to the present

day) – commented on the SNG extension: “The era that

ventured to build large housing estates was also able to


construct big community buildings. At home we still perceive

them as something connected with the freshly overthrown

political period but for foreign visitors they are proof of

a mature architectural culture hidden behind the iron curtain

and under the label of a poorly functional political system.

Let alone the fact that the possibilities provided by the strong

hand of the state were often in compliance with what most

architects’ desire: to be able to realise big dreams and big

works. Thus we see the new building of the Slovak National

Gallery (Vladimír Dedeček) as a simple big bridge in a line of

conventional houses on the Danube waterfront or the strong

gesture of Svetko's group when he overturned the pyramid

and equipped it with a generous system of inner terraces,

creating the Slovak Radio building in Bratislava.” 57

on 14th December the Austrian photographer Hertha

Hurnaus and Austrian architects Benjamin Konrad and

Maik Novotny introduced their book entitled Eastmodern

in the Bratislava Luna bar of the Kyjev Hotel. 58

This book for the first time since 1989 saw some of

the top architectural works of the 1960s and ‘70s in Slovakia

not only as the specters of modern and/or socialistic

52 Rozhovor o architektúre. Štefan Šlachta (Samuel Abrahám).

Kritika a kontext, 9, 2005, No. 2, p. 59.

53 Ibidem.

54 ŠLACHTA, Štefan. Hriechy architektúry. Príroda a spoločnost’, 39,

1990, No. 20, p. 18..

55 Opravu potrebujú všetky galérie (Juraj Handzo's interview

with Katarína Bajcutová). Bratislavské noviny, No. 12, 2007, p. 1.

56 (rob.) Miliardovou obnovou sa chce Slovenská národná galéria

viac otvorit’ l’ud’om. Ibidem, p. 5. .

57 DULLA, Matúš. “Úvod.”. In: Idem. Slovenská architektúra

od Jurkoviča po dnešok. Bratislava: Perfekt 2007, p. 7. See also

Medailóny stavieb p. 15 (Slovak National Archive in Bratislava),

p. 52 (SNG in Bratislava: “The most impressive building of Danube

waterfront is the fourth wing of SNG [bridging].”), p. 54

(Incheba in Bratislava), p. 71 (Slovak Medical University

in Modra-Harmónia), p. 96 (Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra)

and p. 133 (Zvolen University in Zvolen).

58 HURNAUS, Hertha – KONRAD, Benjamin – NOVOTNY, Maik.

Eastmodern. Wien: Springer Wien NY, 2007.


totalitarian style haunting European Union in crisis, but also

as demonumentalized monuments in the mass of nameless

conventional buildings of the recent past. In addition to the

photographs of the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra the

book also includes three buildings in Bratislava by the architect

Dedeček: The Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic,

the Slovak National Gallery and the Slovak National Archive.


Imro Vaško and Jan Tabor submitted the concept of

an international exposition-confrontation called DEDEČEK

to enter into the competition for the exhibition project followed

by the subsequent implementation of an exposition in the

pavilion of the Czech and Slovak Republics during the

11 th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice: “DEDEČEK

is a kind of catalyst of concrete thinking and the interpretation

of this era that could be called a selective negation of quality.

Prominent personalities who we expect to attend: Elfriede

Jelinek – writer, Ulrich Seidl – film maker, Friedrich Cerha –

composer, Peter Sloterdijk – philosopher, Valie Export –

visual artist.” 59 The project did not win.

Architectural studio zerozero with co-working authors

exhibited in the pavilion in this year's edition. Curatorial

collaboration Monika Mitášová.


February, the Institute of Construction and Architecture of

the Slovak Academy of Sciences published the digital Register

of Modern Architecture on the occasion of the completion

of the exhibition Modern Architecture in the Indices of

Architecture Department and of the colloquium Registration

and protection of modern architecture. At that time it included

150 out of 3,000 selected works, later it was extended to

contain the 500 “most valuable works” inclusive of areas and

constructions by Vladimír Dedeček, including the SNG. 60


20 th May – 21 st June, an exhibition of works of the

NL Architects studio represented an international reaction

to the book Eastmodern and to the Bratislava discussion

regarding the demolition, reconstruction or revitalisation

of the front wing of the SNG. These Dutch architects chose

to exhibit in the closed exhibition rooms of the SNG “bridging”.

They preferred the exhibition spaces that were in a state

of disrepair and “out of order” to the “reconstructed” historical

Esterházy palace of the Slovak National Gallery.

NL Architects publicly appealed by means of this

exhibition and also in a press conference to save the Water

Barracks “bridging” and supported the voices against its

demolition. The invitation of this studio to Bratislava as a part

of a Dutch culture festival “Made in Holland, Holland in

Slovakia” was initiated by the photographer Illah van Oijen.

Curatorial collabration Monika Mitášová.

the genesis of Dedeček's project for the SNG was

discussed in a text in the gallery yearbook published by

the curator Monika Mitášová who also placed the architect's

work in the context of 1980s architecture in Slovakia

in the exhibition for that decade 61 .

10 th July, the Slovak National Gallery, the Department

of Architecture of AFAD, the architectural studio of Benjamín

Brádňanský and Víto Halada in cooperation with the

Department of Photography of AFAD, the photography studio

of Filip Vančo and in cooperation with the photographer

59 VAŠKO, Imro – TABOR, Jan: DEDEČEK. Koncept.

Digitálny dokument, p. 1, authors' archive.

60 Ibidem.

61 MITÁŠOVÁ, Monika. K vzniku dostavby SNG. Štyri alternatívy

návrhu Vladimíra Dedečka. In: POLÁČKOVÁ, Dagmar (ed.).

Ročenka Slovenskej národnej galérie v Bratislave – Galéria

2007–2008., Bratislava : SNG, 2009, pp. 53–56; aedem. Drobné

subverzie? Architektúra druhej polovice 80. a začiatku 90.

rokov na Slovensku. In: JABLONSKÁ, Beata (ed.). Osemdesiate.

Postmoderna v slovenskom výtvarnom umení 1985–1992 (katalóg

výstavy). Bratislava: Slovenská národná galéria, 2009.


Illah van Oijen prepared the first of two meetings with

Vladimír Dedeček's work in the SNG bridging on the occasion

of his 80 th birthday – a temporary installation of architectural

analyses and photographic interpretations of his work.

Curator Monika Mitášová.

The Laudatio was presented by Professor Marián Zervan:

“… Vladimír Dedeček as a member of the third generation

of 20 th century Slovak architects was, like many others, facing

complicated and even insoluble tasks: to build city premises

and housing estates, cultural and shopping buildings, schools

and school premises, sports and multifunctional halls, to

rethink their functionalist postulates in new social conditions,

to continue with the typification and at the same time create

unrepeatable works, to free architecture from pseudohistorical

reminiscences and start a dialogue with world architecture,

to definitively come to terms with the dilemma of folksiness,

national specificity and cosmopolitanism. The results were

singular works or extraordinary artefacts, monumental projects

that were nolens volens assigning the significance to the

socialistic way of life and rituals. In Vladimír Dedeček's work

and in his approach to space and architectural form we can

see a huge effort to demonumentalize and deperfectionize

the architectural testimony using elementary techniques and

yet in very effective ways within these big gestures. It is this

that I feel is Dedeček's shift and deviation from the context

of the third modern generation in Slovakia.

Therefore please allow me to conclude this speech

which is not full of praise and address Vladimír Dedeček,

who is celebrating his 80th anniversary, in the way that

I addressed him in our first meetings, although today's

meeting is, after all, enriched by different knowledges:

Happy Birthday ‘Mr. Architect’.” 62

17 th July, the Slovak National Gallery organized a second

birthday celebration with Vladimír Dedeček in the SNG

bridging: A marathon of fifteen-minute lectures. The presenters


were the architects Benjamín Brádňanský, Ján Ťupek,

Imro Vaško, historian Peter Szalay, theorist Marián Zervan

from Bratislava and guests from Austria: the curator and

art historian Ingrid Holzschuh 63 and the architect and critic

Jan Tabor. 64 The final speech was given by Vladimír Dedeček.

Theorist Marián Zervan considered and evaluated

Dedeček's work in the Slovak historiography: “In writings

about Vladimír Dedeček and evaluations of his work we can

see myths of two types. Firstly, that no one was writing about

it, i.e. everyone kept silent about it. Secondly, that it was

uncritically accepted in the socialist era and uncritically

condemned after 1989.” 65

Architect and critic Imro Vaško summarized the local

situation and the requests of international architects for the

preservation and protection of modern architectural works

in Slovakia 66 : “While the architecture of parallel modernism

has been overlooked in Slovakia for the past twenty years,

the Dedeček phenomenon has not only been ignored by

retrospective works such as Dejiny slovenského výtvarného

umenia – 20. storočie (History of Slovak Fine Arts –

20 th Century) but also dismissed and negatively evaluated

by the top representatives of the Slovak architectural

community as well as the intellectual and artistic community.

At this time we should mention e.g. the inability of the AFAD

62 ZERVAN, Marián. Laudatio. Digital document, p. 2, author's archive.

63 See HOLZSCHUH, Ingrid. Wiener Stadtplanung im

Nationalsozialismus von 1938 bis 1942. Das Neugestaltungsprojekt

von Architekt Hanns Dustmann. Wien: Böhlau Verlag, 2011.

64 See TABOR, Jan. Kunst und Diktatur. Architektur, Bildhauerei und

Malerei in Österreich, Deutschland, Italien und der Sowjetunion

1922–1956. Baden: Grasl, 1994. An exhibition with the same name

took place in his curator concept from 28 March to 15 August 1994

in Künstlerhaus Wien.

65 ZERVAN, Marián. Vladimír Dedeček's work in some books

on Slovak, Czechoslovak as well as world architecture (contribution

presented during the Marathon of fifteen-minute lectures dedicated

to Vladimír Dedeček's architecture in domestic and international

context. 17 July 2009, SNG in Bratislava). Digital document,

p. 3, author's archive.

66 VAŠKO, Imro. Dedeček's generation of Stavoprojekt (contribution

presented ibidem). Digital document, p. 2 Author's archive.


Arts Council to appreciate the value of the architect

Dedeček's work for Slovak culture. The West has started

to strongly recognise it as interesting, unique and original.

Jan Tabor's energy in promoting Dedeček in Vienna, the

comments of Daniel Libeskind, Greg Lynn, Wolf Prix and

the whole Vienna architecture scene (Roman Delugan,

PPAG...), Jan Neutellings, Peter Cook, Farshid Moussavi

and many others were and still are in strong contrast with

our statements.” 67

The curator and critic Jan Tabor noted in a magazine review

of both above mentiond events: “... Dedeček's persecution

is only a pose of the new heroic anti-communists in the era

of post-communist well-being; the persecution of his

architecture is often just the foolishness of the new era (...)

oh, may it [the SNG bridging] have been done by Koolhaas...,

my Vienna friends keep saying...”. 68


the SNG curator Viera Dlháňová used the example

of SNG building in her contribution that dealt with the issues

of sustainability and protection of the late Modern architecture

in Slovakia 69 .


a group of authors from the Institute of Construction and

Architecture of the Slovak Academy of Sciences renewed the

discussion Moderné a/alebo totalitné v architektúre 20. storočia

na Slovensku, 70 (The Modern and/or the Totalitarian in

20 th Century Architecture in Slovakia), this time in the book

of the main editor Dr. Henrieta Moravčíková, that dealt with the

topic of the totalitarian era architecture from the mid-1990s. 71

In the introduction, Professor Matúš Dulla compared

Slovakia and other European countries (Germany, Italy,

Spain and states of the former socialistic block) with the

terms undemocratic regimes, benevolent totality, totalitarian/

authoritative and authoritarian regimes. This differentiation is


not characterised in more detail or further distinguished in other

texts. Professor Dulla puts the relationship between the modern

style and totality as follows: “... In the Slovak environment,

the totalitarian regime managed to implement a unified artistic

direction only for short period and in a restricted way and

anyway the imposed direction was just an echo of a more

distant foreign model. The structures of power were not able

to formulate their own mental image of architecture and thus

it could develop in a relatively peaceful way at least in a latent

relationship with the international discussion. (...) Not even

in the period of the harshest totalitarianism have the local

conditions corresponded to the consistency of build of the

dictatorships such as the Nazi Germany or Stalin Soviet Union.

The term totalitarianism, as defined by Hannah Arendt, therefore

partly corresponds only to conditions of the Slovak state in the

years 1939–1945 and the dictatorship of the Communist Party

of Czechoslovakia in the years 1948–1953.” 72

67 ZERVAN, Marián. Vladimír Dedeček's work in some books on Slovak,

Czechoslovak as well as world architecture (contribution presented

during the Marathon of fifteen-minute lectures dedicated to Vladimír

Dedeček's architecture in domestic and international context. 17 July

2009, SNG in Bratislava). Digital document, p. 3, author's archive.

68 TABOR, Jan. Dedečkiáda. Arch, 14, 2009, No. 7–8, p. 54.

69 DLHÁŇOVÁ, Viera. Memento mori slovenská architektúra.

Miera udržatel’nosti architektúry neskorej moderny na konkrétnom

príklade Dedečkovej prístavby Slovenskej národnej galérie.

In: BODNÁROVÁ, Katarína K. (ed.). Ročenka Slovenskej národnej

galérie v Bratislave – Galéria 2011. Bratislava: Slovenská národná

galéria, 2012, pp. 93–108..

70 MORAVČÍKOVÁ, Henrieta – SZALAY, Peter – DULLA, Matúš –


Katarína. Moderné a/alebo totalitné v architektúre 20. storočia

na Slovensku. Bratislava: Slovart 2013, pp. 90, 91, 93–95, 102, 188,

189, 215, 216. Fig. 15, 19–21, 30 on not numbered pages.

71 HAMMER-MORAVČÍKOVÁ, Henrieta. Bratislava a totalitné idey

minulosti. Architektúra a urbanizmus, 28, 1994, No. 1–2, p. 22–33.

See also STOLIČNÁ, Elena. S pečat’ou svastiky. Architektúra

a urbanizmus, 34, 2000, No. 3–4, pp. 133–138.

72 DULLA, Matúš. Benevolentná totalita: mlčanlivá diskusia

moderného s tradičným v slovenskej architektúre 1939–1956.

In: MORAVČÍKOVÁ, Henrieta – SZALAY, Peter – DULLA, Matúš –


Katarína. Moderné a/alebo totalitné v architektúre 20. storočia

na Slovensku. Bratislava: Slovart 2013, nonpaginated.


Selected works of Vladimír Dedeček are published in

this context together with the works of Belluš, Chorvát,

Kusý, Svetlík, Kroha and the group, Kuzma, Svetko, Matušík,

Chovanec, Mlynárčik with Mecková and Kupkovič within the

performance of two international research tasks: a project

called Architecture of totalitarian regimes of the 20 th century

in city management in Southern and Eastern Europe and

a project called Differentiated typology of modernism:

a theoretical basis for the maintenance and renewal of modern

architectural works in Slovakia. The author of the introduction

justified their unification in one book by the controversy of the

conservative and the modern (it means neither the classical

and the modern, nor the conservative and the progressive)

in 20 th century architecture in Slovakia.

in a review of this book, Jan Tabor pointed out the

importance of research as well as the problems concerning the

terms and concepts used: “We could keep arguing about the

term totalitarian forever. This attribute is pejorative in a totalitarian

way and tempts us into a mistaken view that the state or

official architecture of any state that has been assigned with

this ideologically motivated attribute is necessarily totalitarian

too. (...) It is usually also unfair to the architects who were

designing and building, and making mistakes in the conditions

in which they had to live, which, however, they mostly rejected,

very often with their own high quality architecture.” 73 Tabor's

review highlights that 20 th and 21 st century architecture that is

officially supported by dictatorships, centralized governments

and political groups that (not even today) tolerate no opposition,

does not always have to be as defined, i.e. totalitarian from the

nature of the power of the state. The architectural differentiation

in undemocratic systems can be jointly formed – and in some

works they are provably jointly formed – by polemic, subversive

and critical procedures of creation that can be distinguished

and are different from those that are being nodded over by

the established state power regime.


architect Paňák's article on the reconstruction of the

SNG building was published in Architektúra a urbanizmus

magazine 74 .


23 rd – 27 th March, the Faculty of Architecture SUT

in Bratislava and the Department of Architecture of Residential

Buildings under the leadership of the architect Štefan Polakovič

co-organized an international architectural workshop called

Zhorela SNG v Bratislave – ako d’alej? (SNG in Bratislava

has burned down – what shall we do now?). Students

of architecture from Paris, Venice, Stuttgart and Bratislava

schools also considered the future of the Slovak Radio building

by Štefan Svetko and the Most SNP bridge in Bratislava by

the architectural group of the architect Jozef Lacko.


on 18 th January the reconstruction of the SNG buildings

in Bratislava began. The studios of the Department of

Architecture of AFAD and the Faculty of Architecture of SUT

started to work on the theme of “iconic ruins” and, within that

framework, also on alternative designs for reconstruction,

renewal and rebuilding projects for the SNG.

an exhibition project was launched for the 15 th International

Architecture Exhibition in Venice

on 26 th February, the newspaper Denník N published

an article 75 by Jana Németh about the project for the

15th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice along with an

interview with its co-author and curator Professor Marián Zervan.

73 TABOR, Jan. Dilema dějin slovenské moderny: skvělé stavby

ze zlých časů. Arch, 18, 2013, No. 12, pp. 64–65.

74 PAŇÁK, Pavol. Rekonštrukcia a dostavba areálu Slovenskej

národnej galérie v Bratislave. Architektúra a urbanizmus, 47, 2013,

No. 3–4, pp. 266–279.

75 NÉMETH, Jana. Kto by sa pobil o Slovenskú národnú galériu.

Denník N, 26 February 2016, pp. 22–23.


on 14 th March, the Týždeň magazine published articles

by architects Matúš Vallo 76 and Ján Bahna 77 which

commented on the Slovak National Gallery.

Ján Bahna wrote about Dedeček: “This architect was

almost unknown to the Prague Spring generation.

The theorists also showed no great interest in the work

of this titan of typification. Everything began after the book

Eastmodern was published in 2007 in which two Slovak

expatriates discovered Slovak monuments from the socialist

era. (...) Architect Dedeček became active in the period

of sorela [Socialist Realism]. He was inspired at that time

by the architectural icon Oskar Niemeyer. The elements

of monumental Brazil impressed the young graduate and

he implemented them in his works in the smaller Slovakia.

It was still logical in Nitra [Slovak University of Agriculture in

Nitra]. However, when he entered the city with these solitaires,

he crashed with an existing structure. He had big problems

with the Slovak National Gallery, his wife [art historian, SNG

Drawing Collection curator Ol’ga Dedečková] suffered from

them and the public suffered from them too. The building

has never been completely finished. [Slovak actor] Milan

Lasica writes in his letters to [his friend, Slovak actor] Stano

Štepka in the Slovenské pohl’ady magazine: ‘When this

Le Corbusier of the third generation, the designer of the

National Gallery, was asked questions about his project he

replied with the typical arrogance that he is creating works

for the 21 st century.’” 78

Architect Matúš Vallo, who is two generations younger

to architect Ján Bahna wrote: “It is the opportunities that often

make the difference. Of course, no contract or client can help

an architect who does not take his/her job seriously and does

not have some additional value – talent, experience

or an open mind. / In the past this was very much the truth

about Vladimír Dedeček. As he told me with modesty

in the interview for this magazine [.týždeň], the attention

he is being currently given is also the result of the fact


that he had the chance to work on buildings that were less

limited by normative rules and functions than his other

similarly excellent colleagues. It seems to me that architect

Dedeček, said to have been an uncompromising ‘tough guy’

in the past, is exaggerating things with his modesty. (...)

If it has not been clear so far from this text, I belong to the

generation of architects who greatly acknowledge Dedeček

and consider him to be a reference to which we

can constantly return without the eternal need for aids like

‘the Slovak context’ or ‘it was different era’. I am sure we

don't have to keep explaining that this reference is unique.

The theorists or architectural historians have been doing

this for years. Although they fail to get out of their shells

and present Dedeček to the non-professional public

in an understandable way, the truth remains the truth.

Dedeček is world-class. Even though the frequency

of questions such as: ‘And you really like that gallery?’

is not decreasing, at least in my case (e.g. from the chief

editor of this magazine [.týždeň]).” 79

The .týždeň did not publish the response of Marián Zervan

and Monika Mitášová to the statements of Ján Bahna.

on 11 th April, Patrik Garaj published an interview 80

with architect Ján Studený about the exhibition project for

the 15 th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice.

76 VALLO, Matúš. Architekt príležitosti. týždeň, 14 March 2016.

77 BAHNA, Ján M. Dedeček a SNG z iného pohl’adu. .týždeň, 14 March


78 Ibidem.

79 VALLO, Matúš. Architekt príležitosti. (Bibliographic reference in

footnote No. 76).

80 Budovu SNG vyvezieme do Benátok. Interview of Patrik Garaj with

Ján Studený. Trend, 11 April 2016.




marián zervan

Study model of the Slovak National Gallery, Academy of Fine Arts and Design

in Bratislava, 2016. Plexi-glass. Courtesy of exhibition authors and curators.


This project The Care for Architecture: Asking the Arché of Archi -

tecture to Dance was initiated by cooperation between Petr

Hájek – Vít Halada’s studio (Faculty of Architecture and Academy

of Fine Arts and Design /AFAD/, Department of Architecture),

Ján Studený – Benjamín Brádňanský’s studio (AFAD, Department

of Architecture) and architectural theorist Marián Zervan

(AFAD and Trnava University, Department of Theory and History

of Arts). It was developed further in cooperation with architectural

theorist Monika Mitášová (Trnava University, Department

of Theory and History of Arts) and exhibition commissioner The

Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava. What they have in common

is their lasting interest in the work of the architect Vladimír

Dedeček. This can be found not only in their attitudes to the

Slovak National Gallery edifices and other of his architectural

works but also in a number of events / see Chronology, p. 119–120 /. Just

to mention a few of them, there are studio analyses of Vladimír

Dedeček’s works or shared inter-studio project Iconic ruins

in which students of architecture deal with the renewal and

reconstruction of significant works from the 1960s and 70s in

Slovakia, including the buildings of Vladimír Dedeček.

The authors of the project, who are also its curators, have

decided to show various ways of dealing with one of Vladimír

Dedeček’s most significant as well as controversial works –

the Slovak National Gallery area, designed and built between

1962 and 1979, and exhibit them in the national pavilion of the

Czech and Slovak Republics. In various ways the authors of the

exhibition project show the whole range of changes during the

period of design, construction and use as well as the renewal

and reconstruction: from changes in the project documentation

to changes in shape, materials, technical equipment and various

versions of use of the functioning or closed premises. Including

its rebuilding, as well as a range of competitions and creative

workshops aimed solely at the development of the testimony of

the SNG buildings. The authors also show the manifold reactions

of jury members, Slovak and foreign architects of different

generations who had either visited the SNG or held lectures


there, leading political and cultural representatives and the media

as well as professionals, non-professional and the general

public that the project and the final approved work raised from

the time of its birth to 2016.

Following the announcement of the theme of the 15 th International

Architecture Exhibition in Venice the authors focused

on the differentiation of various forms of care for architecture

but also aimed to distinguish care (Sorge) from well-meant

solicitude (Fürsorgen) without project or the various forms of

pragmatic calculus concerned (concern, Besorgen) in the fight

for the premises of the SNG. Working on this differentiation and

as an alternative to a fight and a clash at the front-line, they

offer a creative response of various architectural projects whose

dance can give rise to unexpected solutions. The authors present

this solution in the form of a diagram of options originating

partly from Dedeček’s projects’ phases but especially from

the architectural competition projects, workshops and studio

designs dealing with SNG’s reconstruction and rebuilding.

The form of the project presentation corresponds to the differentiating

movement and solution. The central object of the pavilion

is a three-dimensional metal model of the Slovak National Gallery

premises in red, corresponding to the constructed premises on

a reduced scale (1:17,78). The red colour, however, was just one

of its colours, while the most distinctive polarity was the relationship

between red and white. Some parts of the metal model are

walkable and this makes it possible to see and understand some

of the Dedeček’s original constructional and spatial solutions

of the premises that contain compositional and cluster arrangements

of agoras, amphitheatres, odea, pavilions and galleries.

The model stands in the middle between the two side walls of

the pavilion. The longer parallel walls represent two environments,

two different strategies: the environment of fight, clash and the

strategy of concern (Besorgen), solicitude (Fürsorgen) and the

documentation of Dedeček’s work on one side, and the environment

that asks the arché of Dedeček’s architecture to dance with

the strategy of care (Sorge), and project on the other side.


The entrance wall in-between contains one introductory

screen. This screen shows the diagrams of the two longer pavilion

walls: the “fight wall” and the “dance wall”. The layout of

the “dance wall” follows an introductory part of a music score

featuring folk dance motives by a Slovak composer Ilja Zeljenka

( Musica slovaca. Composition for Violin and String Orchestra

on Folk Songs from Čičmany, 1975). This screen also shows

the basic Care for Architecture exhibition project data, its mission

statement, project description and the names of the authors,

curators, commissioners and participating authors. The exhibition

catalogue graphic concept by architect and graphic designer

Kateřina Koňata Dolejšová (2016) is shown here as well.

On the fight side, there are six screens placed as signs of

battle positions. The first screen shows Jana Durajová’s documentary

containing the memories of the designer Vladimír

Dedeček, comments by architectural historian Peter Szalay, the

SNG director Alexandra Kusá, critical statements from the archaeologist

and expert in the history of Bratislava Štefan Holčík

and several citizens of Bratislava and visitors.

On the second you can see a set of photographs of the

SNG building by the outstanding Austrian photographer

Hertha Hurnaus who is a co-author of the book Eastmodern

(2007) and is cooperating on the upcoming book on the work

of Vladimír Dedeček.

The third screen presents documentary photographs (2011)

by the photographer Daša Barteková who has been engaged

for long period in documenting the SNG building and its events.

The fourth screen shows visitors the extensive discussions

about the SNG premises held in the pages of the newspaper

Bratislavské noviny from 2001 up to practically 2016, contributions

from important figures in Slovak architectural and cultural

life and citizens of Bratislava. This has been the broadest critical

platform for stands on the SNG building.

The fifth screen presents the opinions of international architects

who have exhibited in the SNG buildings or have held

lectures there and written about it: Greg Lynn, Kamiel Klaasse


(NL Architects), Jan Tabor, Benjamin Konrad and Maik Novotny

(co-authors of Eastmodern book).

The sixth screen is dedicated to the attitudes of Slovak

architects and Slovak cultural representatives in video-documentary

by Jana Durajová and Lena Kušnieriková (2016).

There are six screens also on the wall of understanding,

project and dance. The first screen contains the project documentation

of the individual phases of the SNG construction

by the architect Vladimír Dedeček (1962, 1963, 1967–1979).

The second screen presents the SNG building analysis by

authors of the upcoming book on Vladimír Dedeček’s architecture:

Benjamín Brádňanský, Vít Halada, Monika Mitášová and

Marián Zervan.

The third screen shows selected competition projects from

Slovak and foreign architects from the first SNG reconstruction

competition in 2003 plus the competition projects from Slovak

and Czech architects from the second SNG rebuilding and

modernization competition in 2005.

The fourth screen shows architectural designs from various

international student workshops and studio assignments dealing

with SNG area / see Chronology, p. 119,125 /.

The fifth screen is dedicated to artistic interpretations. It presents

a video by visual artist Anna Daučíková that deals with the

gallery as an institution (the work: Monika Mitášová with SNG,

2009, from the cycle Portrait of a Woman with Institution) filmed

in the closed SNG bridging, plus a video of an “exhibition” in the

SNG bridging model by visual artist Stanislav Masár (2016).

The sixth screen represents the project documentation of the

SNG reconstruction and building conversion by architects Martin

Kusý and Pavol Paňák (2005) and the visualisation of the eventual

state of the ongoing reconstruction and rebuilding. Projects are

accompanied by student works of three studios: Hájek – Halada’s

studio (2016) and Studený – Bradňanský’s studio at Academy of

Fine arts and Design in Bratislava (2016) and Hájek – Hulín’s

studio at Czech Technical University in Prague. These projects

are a constant and never-ending invitation to dance.


Metal exhibition model variants in pavilion, digital visualisation, 2016.

Courtesy of exhibition authors and curators.

134 | 135



Metal exhibition model (1:17,78) of the Slovak National Gallery built edifices

and historical Watter Barracs, May 2016, Zbečno, Czech Republic.


138 | 139

140 | 141

142 | 143

This publication was made possible by the generosity

of Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava,

Trnava University in Trnava,

and Czech Technical University in Prague, Faculty of Architecture

scholarly editing : prof. Miroslav Marcelli, doc. Oldřich Ševčík

exhibition commisioners : Monika Mitášová, Monika Palčová,

Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava 2016

Care (Sorge ) for Architecture

Asking the Arché of Architecture to Dance

editor, coauthor of architectural and textual interpretation © Marián Zervan 2016

coauthor of architectural and textual interpretation

and author of supplements © Monika Mitášová 2016

authors of architectural interpretation

© Benjamín Brádňanský, Vít Halada 2016

Co-authors: Monika Mitášová, Marián Zervan 2016

In collaboration with: Andrej Strieženec, Mária Novotná, Anna Cséfalvay, Danica Pišteková 2016

authors and curators of the exibition

© Benjamín Brádňanský, Petr Hájek, Vít Halada, Ján Studený, Marián Zervan 2016

In collaboration with: Martin Stoss, Terezie Keilová 2016

photographs © Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava, TASR and Benedikt Markel 2016

translators © Michael Frontczak (01-03), Silvia Holéczyová (04-05) 2016

graphics © Kateřina Koňata Dolejšová 2016

printing and binding : Vlado Šebek, OPUS VDI, Prague 2016

publisher © Česká technika – nakladatelství ČVUT 2016

Česká technika – nakladatelství ČVUT, Thákurova 1, 160 41 Praha 6,


Art-Now Foundation 2016, Grafická 20, 150 00 Prague 5, www.art-now.cz

First edition


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