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Basic data  
Project source Competition
Project no. 100227
Client Mestna občina Maribor
Site Maribor, Slovenia
Date 2010
Architecture Studio Krištof:
  Tomaž Krištof
  Slot Studio Mexico:
  Juan Carlos Gonzalez Vidals
  Moritz Melchert
  Israel Alvarez Matamoros
  Mariana Tello Rodriguez
Collaborators Goran Rupnik (Riba)
  Kosta Jurkas (Stolp)
  Ulises del Llano
  César Alonso

1. The Maribor art Gallery as an icon:

The city of Maribor has undergone great changes over the last decades from a city characterized by heavy industry to a cultural city, which is honored by the European Union’s decision to become European Capital of Culture 2012.

The project brings along many chances and opportunities to be recognized as the icon of this important cultural event. It not only stands for the urban change of Maribor but also opens up chances to mark the beginning of the new millennium.

2. The urban layout:

The building is located right at the edge of the historic city center of Maribor on the riverbanks. By reducing the building’s footprint as much as possible, a maximum of open areas is achieved.

Area B is planned as a park, which marks a gap in the urban pattern, separating the historic center from the residential areas in the west. This new park complements the city’s already existing park system (Three Ponds – City Park – Maister Park – Slomsek Park), leading visitors from the hills around the city to the river.

The new park opens up views from the upper street to the river with a new inclined plaza along its vertical axis and converts into a generous platform for public events of all sorts. Uninterrupted views not only to the river Drava but also to Pohorje Hill reinforce the visual qualities.

The row of existing buildings in the east will be given additional qualities. Those buildings do already have a public use, which will be reinforced by a second façade facing the new plaza.

3. The architectural form

The architectural form of the Maribor Art Gallery can be described as four towers sitting on a pedestal. But there are many different ways of reading this form.

Historically, the four towers of the building remind of Maribor’s medieval rectangular city wall, with four defense towers in each corner.

But considering the specific aesthetic features of Maribor, which is often described as the city of roofs, the building could also be interpreted as a podium covered by a huge roof.

The towers can also be seen in connection with the city’s industrial past as a reminiscence of industrial constructions and becomes a shape that connects the old industrial Maribor with the new cultural Maribor.

The building becomes a container for art, which on the other hand converts into an art form by itself.

4. The building's organization:

The concept of space in between the four towers turns into the mission statement for the overall organization of the building. The city’s Living Room, a covered plaza is located in ground floor in the heart of the building. Access from all four directions makes this strategic point part of the city and its urban system.

Extreme flexibility within the building will be reached by the so-called thick façade, a structural envelope that wraps the building horizontally, which outsources all services to its perimeter and maintains the center blank. The thick façade also accommodates additional space such as the cabinets of curiosity, niches for statues, rooms for plants, meditation rooms, terraces, resting rooms and vertical circulations, among others.

Additional to the already mentioned vertical circulations cores inside the thick wall, there is a more representative and highly attractive system of ramps right in the center of the building, which connects the ground floor with the gallery levels.

5. The building's program:

The most public part of the program such as the City’s Living Room, the Children’s Museum, the lecture hall and the library are located in the extroverted upper and lower ground floors. All of those programs have two independent entrances, one form the main lobby (Living Room) and one from the outside.

The Architectural Center together with the Creative Industry Center and the different Gallery spaces are accommodated in the introverted top of the building, due to its less public consideration.

6. Technical solutions:

Structure: With the thick wall in its perimeter, the building needs some additional vertical columns in order to hold the steel slabs. All inside walls are structurally not necessary, which allows a maximum of flexibility.

Machinery: Machine rooms (mostly for air conditioning) are located in the 2nd basement and within the thick wall, which also includes shafts. Acknowledging it as an appreciated good, the building intends to use as less energy as possible by different measures such as the use of thermal groundwater, solar plants and building materials which reduce the lost of heat to a minimum. Evert aspect of the design, the engineering, and the construction assumes a life-cycle costing approach to understand the long-term implications of each decision. The investment today has to make sense in the long-term.

Natural Ventilation: The design seeks to provide operable windows, and mixed mode ventilation where appropriate and practical. A building design that incorporates strategies for natural ventilation reduces the need for mechanical cooling during some periods of the year.

Garbage: Waste disposals are located in the 1st basement with a temporary waste disposal next to the vehicular entrance to the garage (with easy access for the garbage truck).

Lighting: To achieve optimum use of energy in the lighting system, the most important considerations in the lighting design is use of daylight. However, some areas of the Maribor Art Gallery cannot do without artificial lighting. Openings inside the steel slabs allow many sorts of artificial lighting and also guarantee high flexibility in changes of artificial light sources.

Operation and Maintenance: An extremely important aspect of sustainable design is the upkeep of the building. It is essential that the design include clear directions on how the building should be operated and maintained. In fact, maintenance of the building system is critical to achieving energy efficiency measures.

Flood Protection: A double wall (the thick wall) protects the basement from humidity and wetness. Should water enter the first wall in the 1st basement for instance, the double wall protects it from entering the art depositories, because this water flows down to the 2nd basement from where it will be pumped out of the building.

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