Contemplating the end: architect Štefan Šlachta speaks about the Kyjev. James Ball
TWENTY international artists and architecture theorists took part in a site-specific symposium at Bratislava's icon of modernist architecture, the Hotel Kyjev, between April 4 and 13.
The project was the brainchild of the International Coffeeshop, an artist-run initiative dedicated to artistic collaborations that address art and politics throughout Europe.
The meeting's theme was entitled "End/Ending," which was particularly relevant considering that the Hotel Kyjev has been slated for demolition.
In late 2006, Lordship, a British-based real estate developer, unveiled the Centre Plaza project, a Sk5-billion plan to redevelop the entire area around Kamenné Square. According to Bratislavahotels.com, the project envisions two new hotels, office space, luxury apartments and a new home for the Tesco department store.
Lillian Fellmann, director of International Coffeeshop, arranged for the symposium's participants, who were mainly from Slovakia, Switzerland, the United States, Germany and Poland, to receive unprecedented access to the hotel's numerous unique architectural features.
"The Hotel Kyjev, aside from its beauty, is symbolic of the notion of ending," Fellmann told The Slovak Spectator. "Nobody knows what will happen to it, although its life is undoubtedly doomed and because of this, it is a fantastic location for our artists."
The opening reception for the week started with a lecture from Ivan Matušík, the Kyjev's architect and a vocal opponent of the demolition, who took guests on a tour of the area.
Each morning started in the uber-stylish Luna Bar with a so-called critical breakfast, a talk given by various international figures from the arts and architectural industry. Proponents of Slovakia's modernist movement, including architects Štefan Šlachta and Henrieta Moravčíková, head of the Docomomo modernist building conservation group, delivered impassioned speeches on the future of the Kyjev to a packed audience.
The remainder of the days were then left to the artists to create works that addressed the theme, with daily presentations that culminated in an exhibition on April 12.
Zurich-based artist Roland Roos spent the entire week inconspicuously restoring worn down parts of the hotel. Staff and guests walked by without batting an eyelid as he fixed and filled holes and repainted damaged areas.
Berlin-based performance artists Nicolas Galeazzi and Beatrice Fleischlin contributed by demonstrating a week in their life if they were 80. They began with daily presentations and ended with a full make-over that visually advanced their appearance. Their finale was a chilling "dance of the dead" in their hotel room.
Resident Slovak performance-party artist Eric Binder took a more anarchic approach to his presentation, using his personal experiences of the hotel as inspiration. He arrived in a battered white Mercedes Benz, stormed into the Luna bar, pulled out a guitar, and proceeded to sing-shout a profane English song, until a friend set his guitar alight.
The highlight of the week was soprano Maria Turnová, a close friend of Bratislava-based gallery owner Petra Feriancová, who performed sections of Verdi's La Traviata (including a scene she subtitled "Falling apart - The End is Inevitable") to tumultuous applause.
The closing show also included text and video projections, installations and sound pieces that filled the hotel's beautifully dingy interiors, beguiling some guests in the process.
Fellmann deserves a great deal of appreciation for putting this extremely impressive event together.
Meanwhile, Lordships's senior management has been tight lipped about how the Centre Plaza project is progressing, leaving it to forge ahead in a wave of muted controversy.
Developer HB Reavis reportedly has lost a big tenant in its Twin City project.
Company Swiss Re had announced in February 2015 that it would rent space in the multifunctional complex in Bratislava’s Mlynské Nivy area, which is currently under construction. However, it seems now it will not move there. The reason allegedly is that the developer changed the plans and will build a high-rise building instead of a park, the Reality.etrend.sk website reported.
Bratislava will have a new residential zone Podunajská Brána, situated in Bratislava’s Podunajské Biskupice borough. The sale of plots within the first phase of the project, on which new family houses will stand, starts in February 2016.
Bratislava’s shopping centre Central has a new investor. Allianz Real Estate company acquired 100-percent stock in the centre from development company Immocap Group in late 2015 for €175 million, which makes it the biggest transaction in Slovakia’s real estate sector in the past year.
The positive trend in the residential market of new buildings in Bratislava continued also during the last three months of 2015. New projects were added, while the demand for real estate remained high compared with the previous seven years. As a result, the price of available flats kept rising throughout the year.
Slovak banks provided housing loans worth €18.96 billion in November 2015, up by €212.6 million compared to the previous month, according to the statistics published by the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS), the country’s central bank.
The increasing number of customers and investors are the main reasons for the expected boom in the new shopping centres in Europe. As a result, there may appear 9.7 million square metres of new retail areas by the end of 2016, according to Cushman & Wakefield commercial real estate services company.
Vladimír Dedeček, author of the completion of the Slovak National Gallery (SNG) building in Bratislava and other functionalism constructions in Slovakia, received the Emil Belluš Prize 2015 for his life-long work in architecture.