Alongside Jože Plečnik and Maks Fabian, Ivan Vurnik is considered a pioneer of modern Slovenian architecture and the founder of urbanist architecture in Slovenia. A number of his works can be seen in his birth town of Radovljica.
Vurnik's birth house is located close to the old town centre. The simple farmhouse features a statue of Mary and Child in the corner niche. The statue is a copy; the original, which was made by Janez Vurnik Jr., is preserved in the National Gallery in Ljubljana. Ivan Vurnik, together with his wife Helena Kottler Vurnik, also lived in this house following his return from Ljubljana in 1957 right through until he died. Helena died in 1962 just a few years after coming to live in to Radovljica. A circular mosaic with Christ's monogram on the entrance portal serves as a reminder of the couple.
The swimming pool was built beneath the forested 'Obla Gorica' hillock between 1932-1933, and is considered one of Vurnik's finest works. The complex with a 50-metre central pool and children's pool, toilets, changing rooms and restaurant, was designed as a single building. The focal point was the elegant iron and concrete diving board. Due to several extensions, the complex no longer resembles Vurnik's original design, and the diving board also no longer exists.
The grand building at the end of the former castle park was built according to Vurnik's design in 1934. It is distinguised by its symetrically-designed facade with large windows and prominent window sills and lintels.
The merchant Vinko Savnik had the bourgeois villa built between 1922 and 1925 according to Ivan Vurnik's plans. In the villa he opened what was, at the time, the largest shop in Radovljica, which today is remembered by the image on the facade of the house of the God Hermes, otherwise known as Mercury (the name of the shop was 'Merkur').
The exceptional tabernacle for St. Peter's parish church in Radovljica was designed by Ivan Vurnik in the 1930s and painted by his wife, Helena Kottler Vurnik. Helena was a painter and designer, and the couple worked closely together. The tabernacle adorns the side altar of the church.
The pyramid-shaped tomb, located in Radovljica's old cemetery, is constructed from stone blocks. Its entrance is covered by a mesh made of Kropa wrought iron.
Ivan Vurnik erected the mausoleum in Radovljica's old cemetery following World War II for his son, Nik Vurnik, who died at the age of 10 under fire from Italian occupierrs. The mausoleum contains elements of Egyptian architecture. The interior is decorated by mosaics which are the work of the architect's wife, Helena.
Vurnik's legacy can also be found in nearby Brezje as part of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians. In 1965, and already retired, Ivan designed the renovation of the facade of the basilica in a neo-Renaissance style. He emphasised the diversity of the façade with lively decorative mosaics of Christian iconography.
The last of Ivan Vurnik's realised architectural work, not only in Radovljica but in general, is the Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi in the atrium of the monastery in Brezje. The iron and concrete hut, with a very steep double gabled roof, was designed in 1967. It is decorated with mosaics that relate to the 13th century literary work 'The Canticle of the Sun'.
Text by Kaja Beton, May 2018
One of Slovenia's most famous architects was born in Radovljica. His most well-known work is the building with the colourful facade on the street Miklošičeva ulica in Ljubljana. On the Tourism Ljubljana website, they call it simply 'Vurnik's House'.
A tour, with an art historian, of Vurnik's birth house and his work in Radovljica. Guiding takes place in Slovenian language.