ALUARTFORUM – House of Fragments
Art Gallery of the Academy of Fine Arts
- Project team: Miro Roman, Luka Vlahović
- Collaborators: Luka Franješević, Petra Tomljanović
- Structural Engineer: Boris Baljkas
- Year: 04/2014
- Location: Zagreb, Croatia
- Area: 1692 m²
- Type: Art Gallery
“What is art?” is the question for which one can nowadays offer no clear answer. Today we can only detect multiplicity of artistic expressions and variety of artistic responses to specific interests of the contemporary society. Traditional art genres are intertwined with new art practices, opening thus dialogues, new questions, and creating new types of experiences. It is exactly such complexity of contemporary art practices that requires a different architectural approach. Art is no longer an isolated practice, meaning that the space that holds it should be endowed with more meaning than is implied in the sterility of the ‘white cube‘. The space actualizing and presenting art should be a multiplicity of experiences; open, enticing, while at the same time leaving space for unexpected.
WHITE BOX IS NOT ENOUGH
The project ALUARTFORUM embodies the idea of such multivalent spaces. Its role is not that of a passive art supporter but of an active participant: of creating a space for confronted opinions, a space that positions art on Zagreb’s Downtown map. This project provokes and offers various exhibiting strategies as an answer to the multiplicity of artistic expressions. The white cube alone is not enough; it has become one in a series of exhibiting concepts. ALUARTFORUM exhibiting space starts with the ‘Art Forum’, the entrance to the Campus – the zero point of exhibiting, conceived to display works of temporal, ephemeral, performative character. It is continued by liminal exhibiting spaces located in the ‘In-between spaces’. Placed within a reticular spatial envelope and conceived as a series of terraces-gardens that function as a vertical promenade, they are especially enticing for exhibiting site specific art projects. The White and the Open Box are two main museum exhibiting spaces. The ‘White Box’, with its “ideal”, laboratory-like exhibiting features, is counterbalanced by the ‘Open Box’ that, by opening and closing the wall surfaces, establishes a contextual dialog with the surrounding park and the whole city. The top of the building holds an uplifted square – the ‘Art Platform’. It is a displaced, hidden yet public exhibiting space, perceivable only form higher positions in the city. Through ALUARTFORUM galleries the architectural space becomes an active participant in the creation of art context.
DIALOGUE WITH HISTORICISM
Downtown block and the ALU entrance
How to affirm and give and answer to a delicate and complex Downtown bloc structure, and offer a representative entrance to the Academy Campus? Instead of repeating the rhythm of historicist facades, the project ALUARTFORUM creates the rhythm by plans and transparencies, through a subtle interpolation. Although the side access seems as a unified, closed volume acknowledging the historicist line of the bloc, the view unexpectedly changes as one approaches the entrance. Seen en face, the building becomes fully revealed yet dematerialized due to transparent surface layers, thus at the same time opening the view of the park in the background, and emphasizing the Campus entrance. The multiplicity of plans and perspectives, combined with rich articulations and expressions, are reconciled with a neutral cover-web that unifies the facade making it like a high resolution screen. The façade, that changes depending on the display of the exhibited artworks, becomes the presentation screen of the Campus, thus bringing it closer to the city. Each floor is characterized by a different level of diffusion, thus creating a dynamic, vibrant yet subtle façade in the given context. The positioning of the ALUARTFORUM, while respecting all aspects of the historical architectural ambience, enhances Zagreb’s Downtown urban structure.
The ALUARTFORUM building functions as the entrance to the ALU Campus which is formed around the Sculpture Park positioned within a town bloc. It is a project that aims at rethinking and establishing a dialogue with the 21st century art, Academy’s art collection that has been formed during the last century, and student works. The new gallery would function both as temporary exhibiting space and as a permanent display of the art collection. Its physical appearance creates a dialogue with the city bloc and fosters an active relationship between the academy, students and the city.
Through its exhibiting, spatial and urban layers of meaning, ALUARTFORUM mediates multivalued relations between art, exhibiting space and historical urban structure. Seen both as part of the historicist urban center and contemporary art production, it is branded as a “House of Fragments” for which no programmed predefining is necessary. As long as it leaves the space open for coincidences and new interpretations, it creates a creative surrounding for a potent art practice.