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.
The construction of the new main bus station at Bratislava’s Mlynské Nivy may be completed in the end of 2019. The authors of the project are currently waiting for necessary permissions. The investor, HB Reavis, expects that the construction works will start in the beginning of next year.
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The Bratislava for People civic association launched a petition on November 9, asking the capital’s mayor Ivo Nesrovnal and city councillors to scrap a generally binding regulation aimed at increasing immovable property taxes which is set to enter into force as of January 2016. City councillors are to discuss the regulation this month.
Autumn 2015 has been record-breaking for the industrial real estate market. Five new projects were completed in the third quarter of the year, while the construction of four new sites began. Moreover, three of the new projects are situated in the wider surroundings of Bratislava, the CBRE commercial property and real estate services adviser informed.
Bratislava registered nearly 1.7 million square metres of available office space among its districts in the third quarter of 2015.
Slovaks belong to the nations with the most people living in their own house or flat, without being burdened with a mortgage. Up to four-fifths of Slovaks (about 79.4 percent) have their own home, which is the highest ratio in the Visegrad Group (V4) region and fifth highest in the European Union, according to the latest Eurostat survey.
Project Šafko, which has been in operation at Šafárikovo Námestie square in Bratislava until recently, belongs to the architectonic pieces enriching the material culture, according to the Slovak Chamber of Architects which granted it the CE.ZA.AR 2015 award in the category Exterior. The author of the project is architect Oliver Kleinert.