peter pozar architect

maribor — first impressions

As first arriving to the city of Maribor through the Glavni most, the face of a city with past, present and future, stands out on the horizon. With its fragmented cityscape both geometrically and historically, it shows all its values and imperfections sincerely to the Drava river. The historical city center follows the volumes of the riverside grown city structure: with the always changing lines of roofs and gutters, with the narrow alleys opening up through small gateways leading to the water, it is a texture of perfectly connected strands in a web, woven with the patience of centuries.

A while ago, a city wall of strength and safety, was closing around this sculpturesque ancestor of the city protectively. Today there are only fragments showing how it cut the continual growth and provoked unfamiliar new lines to attach to the finely drawn originator.

The gentle moves within the same scaled volumes, at certain points now meet drastic differences compared to their comfortable harmony. The buildings of the 20th century urban needs could not always find their appropriate role in such a fragile medium. The city lines of force, started back in the days, crane at these strange meeting points, frozen in time.

SITE — future between past and present.

The elect spot for the new art gallery shows the characteristics of these specific points. Facing to the Drava river that was one of the sculptors of the old city, and standing close to the Benetke embankment and the Judgment tower as the embodiment of city's history, the presence of the strands of original city structure can not be ignored. While from the other side a whole new scale of contemporary functions are waiting to find the corresponding way to meet the center of the city.

Having the lately built market as a neighbor, the site also has to face the actual problem of the missing heights and lines accompanying the streets in this area.

The newly designed gallery has a special position to fill in this location: help to loose the strictly cut lines of force and volumes of the historical city structure, while reacting to the existing and functioning urban scale on the other side.

Beside the built environment the Drava river is a key driver in the function of this part of the city: the embankments represent the public spirit of Maribor. With its current and future cultural and hospitality functions, and the planned footbridge connecting Pristan with Studenci, it will indicate a whole new and lively circulation that is a major potential to use for an art gallery located in such an idealistic spot.

PURE — out-and-out building

The expression Pure Energy, as the call of European Capital of Culture — Drava river 2012, was a great inspiration at the beginning of the design process. The word "PURE" in its tinctured meaning represents all that our proposal would like to stand for. Its synonyms like authentic, classic, clear, complete, fair, flawless, natural, neat, out-and-out, plain, real, straight, total, transparent and true, are all how we picture the direction this city should and could evolve to. The direction that, in a way leads back to the origins, re-discovering the partly forgotten values of a livable city scale, in other ways receives the existing givens of all types of built environment, and interprets between the different urban languages.

METHODOLOGY — sculpturesque architecture

Our perspective when creating the volume of the building was to correspond with the existing city structure both in scale and framing. We found that following the grown city lines of force and apply them in a contemporary way, they could attach to the historical city center, to give it continuity where its texture was broken, and to hem it where it was cut.

By forming our building from more, smaller, city scaled volumes, giving it a composite body, we avoid it to rule its surroundings as a great mass, but with an articulation that corresponds with the function inside, it would still stand as a unique sculpturesque piece of the whole.

FORM OF BUILDING — fractional delineation

Through studying the coherent lines and shapes, we concluded to different typologies that define the characteristics of the historical city center of Maribor:

By following the fractional delineation of the streets and houses, we found sensitively compiled abstract lines to adapt in our design process.

Typology 1

By looking at the confusion of segmented shapes of roofs, amongst the sculptural disorder there can be strict regularity discovered, which applied in a contemporary composition, could show a complete correspondence between past and present.

Typology 2

As to indicate the lines and shapes but keep them in the right context of resemblance, we separated two types of structures in forming our building:

The thinner, at some point transparent but consistent structure represents the connection between the new building and the historical shapes of the city, framing the newly located functions but assigning the direction of the adopted lines, while the clear but solid glass pieces that host the actual spaces of use.


To organize the listed functions, we followed the scheme in the competition brief, and the logic our architectural concept offered through the volume of the building, in order to reach the optimal connection between the different uses.

The existing potentials like the Drava embankment and the slope of the ground helped the design process to find the best location for all the required functions within the complex.

The divided volume of the building provides the possibility of a very tinted use of the different functions:

As their distinct nature could mean a different way or timing of use, the creative industry center and the architectural center is placed into separate buildings from the main body of the art gallery. This position makes it possible to provide specific services without affecting the working of UGM.

The architectural center still has an underground connection with the main building through their club houses where apart of concert also architectural related events could take place.

The main building mass includes the city daily room with its perfect connection with the Pristan promenade, and hosts all the functions that could make it a lively urban space for all generations.

In this very building all other functions are separated in three different wings:

The largest of all gives place to the UGM galleries, both the temporary and the permanent exhibition, while on the ground floor includes a large lecture room with all the accessories.

The promenade wing is a more narrow and divided one that offers river view to the reading room of the library and the offices while being connected to the entrance hall through an open space gallery and hosting the technical workshops in the attic. The third wing, containing the children's museum, considering its visitors, has also a separate entrance from the inside court between the three wings, but possible to reach through the spaces of UGM as well.

The court, surrounded by the three wings, provides an intimate but open space which ensures the possibility of open-air exhibitions or installations, hereby increasing the services of the Maribor Art Gallery complex.

The required residential apartments, to guarantee the quiet circumstances and intimacy, take place in the attic of both the creative industry center and the architectural center.

The basement under the whole complex provides the required number of parking places and offers the necessary circumstances for the depositories to store valuable pieces of art.


Considering the closeness of the Drava river, the lie of the land, and the basement situation, the building requires reinforced concrete slab foundation, that can hold whatever structure above ground.

The upper mentioned two types of structures define different materials. The framing shell, indicating the lines of the indoor and outdoor spaces, needs to have the right attributes to contain the load bearing structure, insulation, to let here be light at some points in the inside, and grow old nicely as a material. For all these purposes we decided to cover our structure with expanded metal sheets on both sides, hiding the necessary insulation and mechanical accessories inside, and holding glass surfaces in between the two layers where it is needed.

The other element, growing under the protective shells, would be a special glass structure, hard and solid, but light and transparent.

At the joints of the two structures at some places there is a cutback in the glass, which together with the ripped slab lets the natural light reach to the basement clubs.

project team

Zsofia Koczka, Karin Cone and Andras Varsanyi.