Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Area: 680 sqm
Authors: BAAM architects
Typology: Multipurpose Space
Photo/Viz: Blaž Jamšek, BAAM arhitekti
We have renovated the first part of the Commercial House in Šiška from the 1960s. The building is a significant work of the architect Miloš Bonča both from the viewpoint of urbanism and architecture.
The building, which is today a multi-purpose structure, was originally a commercial house. Alongside Šiška Cinema, a hotel and an administrative unit, they form the neighborhood's center and surround the central square. The pavilion structure, together with the greenery, separates the main city approach road from the apartment blocks. This was a general modernist principle that is being lost with newer urbanism.
The glass facade with its transparency enables a visible connection of the street with the square and the park behind it, which has been lost due to the posting of posters on the ground floor display windows on most of the building. By replacing partitions with glass walls, we have revived this idea and restored the connection between the street and the hinterland on this part of the building.
From the view of the side facade, one can decipher the building's layout. Visible concrete slabs, columns, and an accentuated roof reveal the logic of the entire building. Therefore, we removed graffiti from them and carried out necessary repair work. By adding entrance vestibules, awnings, and prominent glass display cases, the prominently elongated building is subtly divided into several units. We emphasized this division of the building with a staircase light, which runs from the basement to the upper floor and is switched on 24/7.
Each building element is visibly separated from others. The pillars on the facade are just touching the panels, the upper windows are placed behind the columns, while the ground floor windows are slightly moved in front of the concrete pillars. The steel I-beams holding the windows run concurrently outside the building above and inside the building below continuously, which is almost unheard of today due to thermal bridges and other factors. In this regard, the building is honest. Therefore, we sandblasted all original painted elements, removed partition walls that were hiding the concrete interior, removed the dropped ceiling, left the visible concrete as it was, etc. We kept the last cantilevered circular staircase, left it in its original state, and for safety, enclosed it with a cage. In this way, we deviated from the original, but with the cage, we adopted the logic of the tension suspension of the staircase. Symbolically, the cage protects the staircase from removal, as it is sadly the last preserved staircase out of the four in the entire building. We did not manage to preserve the original display windows, but with special profiles, we revived the structured nature and apparent thinness of the window areas (currently still in progress). We documented the original windows and the entire building with 3D BIM technology, as most of the original plans have been lost. Therefore, with a 3D printer, we were able to accurately reproduce the missing concrete prefab under the display windows.
The building with its open floor plan allows for constant recycling and multifunctionality. Clear internal infrastructures are crucial for the flexibility of the building. Electrical installations and lights in exposed ceiling niches, visible ventilation with cooling/heating, cabinets, security railing of the staircase, etc., have become the main design elements of the interior, so we separated them from the existing structure by color. Partition walls in the basement with a minimal joint against the floor and ceiling visibly show new