Maks Fabiani Foundation

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Contact info
Ustanova Maks Fabiani
http://www2.arnes.si/~usmafa1/
info@ustanova-maksfabiani.si
Štanjel 1a, SI-6222 Štanjel
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RegionSI-6
Nataša Kolenc, President
natasakolenc@hotmail.com
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Tina Jazbec, Administrator
tina.jazbec@gmail.com
Phone386 (0) 31 407 189
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Past Events


The Maks Fabiani Foundation was founded in 1999 with the aim to support and further the research on the work of the architect and urban planner Maks Fabiani (1865–1962). Its main activities thus include book publishing, expert consulting and, most importantly, maintaining and developing the archive of Fabiani's work and legacy. Though he is thought by many to be one of the most important architects of Mitteleuropa in his time, the documentation of his work has been only modestly preserved due to the destruction wrought by World War II.

Max Fabiani's architectural signature style was secession and historicism-tinged modernism, which he – together with his urbanistic proposals – imprinted into the urban landscape of numerous European cities, most notably, Vienna, Trieste, Gorica, and Ljubljana. Still, his work can be found all over Middle Europe, from Bielsko in Poland and Konopište in the Czech Republic, to the coastal city of Opatija in Croatia (already a popular seaside resort in the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

Maks Fabiani Foundation 2011 Maks Fabiani exhibition at Stanjel Castle.JPG

Today the archive is housed in the Štanjel Castle, which was renovated according to Fabiani's plans. As he was a renaissance man of sorts and as such not only a town planner, arts historian and speculative engineer but also a painter, philosopher, poet, and fiction writer, this archive holds a rather varied collection.

Contents

Background

The idea for the foundation was conceived when the architect and art historian Marko Pozzetto (1925–2006) was writing his book Maks Fabiani – Vizije prostora [Max Fabiani – Visions of Space], which was published in 1997. Pozzetto studied Fabiani for 35 years, during which he was actively collecting and categorising relevant documentation and other materials. When the foundation was established, he donated these items to it.

This archive became a part of the Centre for Karst Architecture in 2010.

The foundation's activities

The foundation's main project, the archive, also functions as a library. There, one can find Fabiani's writings, his engineering plans and sketches, external assessments of his work, and various studies and photographic representations of his heritage. The archive comprises mostly copies from several European archives. An extensive catalogue of it is available online.

Other activities of the foundation involve cooperating in exhibitions on Fabiani such as Adijo Dunaj, pozdravljen Štanjel [Good-bye Vienna, Hello Štanjel] held at the Lojze Spacal Gallery in 2004 and at the Museum of Architecture and Design in 2005. The foundation is also involved in the wide range of activities that make up Fabiani's Year 2015, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Fabiani's birth.

The foundation also sets up workshops and often deals with practical architectural and urbanistic issues. Notably, it collaborated with the Department of Architecture at the University of Ferrara. The foundation was intensively involved in the renovation of Štanjel village (which was in great part re-imagined by Fabiani and is where the architect lived out his last few decades) and helped set up the Fabiani Trail, or Path, in that same area. The trail consists of several pathways connecting the locations and buildings that are associated with his life.

Though the foundation existed only unofficially at the time, it is also in a way the publisher of Pozzetto's book on Fabiani. In addition, it published a translation of Fabiani's philosophical work Akma : duša sveta [Akma: Soul of the World], followed up in 2007 by the book Maks Fabiani – a Guide to his Architecture in Slovenia and Italy and accompanied by occasional exhibition catalogues.

Since 2006, together with the Slovene Association of Urban and Space Planners, the foundation is involved in presenting the Maks Fabiani Urbanism Award for the best projects of urban, regional and spatial planning in Slovenia and, since 2015, also in the neighbouring countries of Austria, Italy, Croatia, and Hungary.

Maks Fabiani

Born in Kobdilj, a hamlet in the Slovenian Karst region, Max Fabiani conducted his studies and also a big part of his career in Vienna. He attained his doctorate on urban planning there and later worked as a professor of ornamental drawing, interior design and, for a short time, architectural composition. He was a founding member of the Austrian Society for Architecture and the president of the Austrian Society of Engineers and Architects. For a time, he worked as an urban advisor at the Viennese Interior Ministry and was later Franz Ferdinand's counsellor for architecture and history of art and urbanism (as anecdotes go, he supposedly advised him – obviously unsuccessfully – not to go to Sarajevo).

Fabiani worked with Otto Wagner for a few years and together they co-wrote the much acclaimed book Modern Architecture (though in the end Wagner was the only one credited). The book shocked the European architectural community of that time and has seen countless translations and reissues. They also worked together on Wagner's Vienna Electronic City Railway project.

Fabiani operated his own architectural studio in Vienna between 1896 and 1917 and during that time he was commissioned for a number of elite projects in the Habsburg Empire, the still iconic Viennese buildings Artaria, Urania and Portois&Fix among them. He projected the pavilions for the 50th anniversary of Franz Joseph's reign, partly for the World Expo in Paris in 1900, and for the Imperial Kings exhibition in London. His projects of that time also include Franz Ferdinand's mansion at Brioni, the renovation of the Konopište Castle, the Casa Bartoli palace in Trieste, and the "Spas for civil servants" in Opatija.

He left Vienna in 1917 and after that based most of his projects in either Slovenia or Italy. He developed his urbanistic ideas for major Italian cities like Venice, Rome, and Bologna, but "probably" implemented them in Gorica only. Due to the political climate of that time, much of his work in Italy was done anonymously.

Fabiani's work in Slovenia

Besides Vienna, Ljubljana bears the mark of Fabiani most strongly. In the aftermath of the 1895 earthquake that destroyed much of the city, Fabiani's report was actually the first text on urban planning in Slovene language. Though this plan was not endorsed as such, most of its ideas were implemented and the present day Ljubljana still displays its logic. Some of his important works in Ljubljana are Krisper House, Hribar House and Bamberg House, the Mladika building, Miklošič Park and partly also Prešeren Square. He also built the much famed and later destroyed pavilion for the painter Rihard Jakopič and at that time even helped the Slovenian impressionists to exhibit abroad.

Maks Fabiani 1908 Jakopič Pavilion sketch 1.jpg


After Fabiani returned to live in Kobdilj and Gorica in 1917, he naturally left a significant mark in that region. He also took over the renovation of the war-torn Posočje, Gorica and Karst region in the years 1917–1922 and was later the chief architect and urban planner for Gorica, where he stationed his studio until his death.

He was the mayor of the medieval town Štanjel in the years 1935–1945 and his restoration of that place is unique in his re-imagining of the castle as the place for communal infrastructure (that is, the school, the medical centre, the cinema hall, the local dance-hall and the municipality offices and vaults). As such, this was one of the first examples of the now common practice of revitalising medieval infrastructure and yet retaining its traditional looks. Together with his relative Enrico Ferrari, he created (architectural and engineering) projects for the Ferrari Garden in Štanjel, a splendid park just outside the village. After World War II, Fabiani moved to Gorizia in Italy and worked there until his last days. He died in 1962 at the age of 97.

Fabiani and Plečnik

Jože Plečnik and Maks Fabiani were arguably the two most important Slovenian architects and town planners who also share quite some common history, as Fabiani used to be Plečnik's senior at Wagner's studio. Their work most visibly overlapped in Ljubljana, where Plečnik created some of his most well-known works (like the Marketplace and the Insurance Company building) upon the urban designs of Fabiani. The Plečnik's famed National and University Library was supposedly also very strongly influenced by one of Fabiani's churches, as was his handling of Vegova Street in Ljubljana, modelled upon Fabiani's arrangement in front of the Vienna Technical University.

Fabiani inventor

Fabiani was a classical all-rounder and as an engineer he worked on very curious, if not always realisable projects. These projects include a machine for walking into the mountains (powered by either petrol or compressed air), an armoured tricycle, a warship, a special chain-less bicycle, a flying machine powered by hands (the prototype was financed by the Italian army), and a concept for the ventilation of the city of Milano, for which he planned to bring fresh air from the mountains by means of huge ducts, lowering the summer temperatures by up to 10 degrees.

Despite the ingeniousness of these ideas, they were never realised in any functional form.

See also

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