© Docomomo Slovenia
Plečnik Stadium
By Jože Plečnik, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 1935

Docomomo International became aware of one of Ljubljana Modern’s masterpieces, the Plečnik Stadium, to be under immediate and serious threat of negligence due to the yet unrealized project of a new modern sport complex, the Bežigrad Sports Park (BSP) including a large-scale construction of skyscrapers, office buildings and underground storeys, ultimately leaving the heritage site in an extreme risk situation.

The Bežigrad Stadium (today better known as Plečnik Stadium) was constructed in 1935 according to the ideas and plans of architect Jože Plečnik (1872 – 1957), who is considered the builder of modern Ljubljana and also the most influential Slovenian architect. Because of his innovative work and originality, Jože Plečnik became one of the leading architects of central Europe and one of the prominent pioneers of modern architecture. In addition to Ljubljana, Jože Plečnik left a significant impact with his masterpieces in three European cities – Vienna, Prague and Belgrade. Hence his works are essential on a broader European scale.

The original architecture of the Plečnik Stadium is a unique and original example of sports and recreation architecture in Europe and the world, and an excellent example of Plečnik’s approach to architecture and urbanism that rests on both classical and modern features. In 2009, Plecnik’s Stadium was declared a monument of national importance, the highest level of legal protection for cultural heritage in Slovenia, by the Decree on the proclamation of Jože Plečnik’s oeuvre in Ljubljana as cultural monuments of national importance.

For more than twelve years now, the main threat to the Plečnik Stadium is the yet unrealized project of Bežigrad Sports Park (BSP) including a large-scale construction of skyscrapers, office buildings and underground storeys, which is intended to be built on the site of Plečnik Stadium and in its surrounding area, envisaging even a temporary removal of the stadium. The BSP company and the Municipality of Ljubljana promised the immediate renewal and modernization of the outdated facilities, which does not represent a renovation of a cultural monument, but a substantial and profitable new construction in a precious location close to the city center, irreversibly affecting the significance values, the integrity and authenticity of the original architecture of the stadium.

Despite the significant violations of the protection regime specified in the above mentioned Decree, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia (IPCHS) paradoxically to its ethics issued consent to the BSP project in 2011. Plečnik Stadium, hidden behind construction fences, has not been accessible to the public since 2008.

Currently, the BSP project is in the process of obtaining a building permit in the integral procedure, which is being carried out at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning. The procedure for issuing an environmental protection consent is also underway within the procedure for issuing a building permit. From 24th April 2020, the BSP project is made publicly available. Public insight is available at the following link.

At this stage, the public has the opportunity to comment on the project. Comments must be sent with reference to case number 35205-121 / 2018 and may be submitted like a letter to the address: Ministrstvo za oklje in prostor, Dunajska 48, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, or as an e-mail to: gp.mop@gov.si

Moreover, the new project is strongly supported by the city authorities of Ljubljana and the IPCHS despite several attempts of reaction from the Europa Nostra and from the UNESCO to nominate the Plečnik Stadium on the Wold Heritage Site with the ambiguous support of the Slovenian government.

Any public criticism to the BSP project or advocating for the comprehensive reconstruction of the monument following the Slovenian legislation and international doctrine of cultural heritage protection is ignored and instantly labelled as conservative opposition to the economic progress and development of the city.

Docomomo International and Docomomo Slovenia are urgently asking for International help to advocate the preservation of the Plečnik Stadium that means acting against the implementation of a substantial commercial project BSP under the disguise of a renovation of the monument.

Docomomo International has written Support Letters regarding this case. Please, find the Letters in the Pdf’s below:
DI Letter_Bežigrad Stadium_Dr. Jelka Pirkovič
DI Letter_Bežigrad Stadium_Dr. Vasko Simoniti
DI Letter_Bežigrad Stadium_Ministrstvo za okolje in prostor

Information provided by Dr. Nataša Koselj, Docomomo Slovenia Chair.