“We want the programme of Oris House of Architecture to be a collage of various contents, but in a quality way. We would say that we have managed to break through little by little.”
In just over a year, Oris House of Architecture in Držislavova street has become one of the indispensable points in the neighbourhood. It is a multipurpose space encompassing the editorial office of Oris, a leading regional architectural magazine, library and reading room, gallery and multifunctional hall. The programme of the House encompasses exhibitions, guest lectures by eminent national and foreign architects, conferences, workshops, different symposiums and more. All members of the House are free to use the library and reading room during business hours. The guests include such esteemed names as Mathias Klotz, Francisco Mangando, Aleš Vodopivec, Vedran Mimica, Ivica Plavec, Kohki Hiranuma, Jean Francois Porchez, Mate Maras, Andrés Cánovas, Smiljan Radić and others. We decided to talk to Andrija Rusan, one of the founders of the House, and Divna Antičević, programme manager, in order to find out how it all started.
Andrija Rusan is a renowned middle-generation architect, double laureate of the Neven Šegvić award by the Croatian Architects Association, winner of the Drago Galić award for best residential architecture and many others. Among other things, he was the curator of Croatia’s appearance on the 10th architectural biennale in Venice in 2006. As the founder and main editor of Oris since 1998, he is an active participant in international critical and theoretical flows in architecture. His participation in the field has also been accompanied by a series of lectures and obtained a logical and necessary extension by the foundation of Oris House of Architecture.
Divna Antičević, born in Dubrovnik in 1988, graduated from the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb in 2012. She works in Oris and writes about architecture since 2013. and she’s a program coordinator at Oris House of Architecture since 2015., where she deals with organisational duties and exhibitions set-ups.
Andrija Rusan: Oris House of Architecture is an association we founded in order to be able to carry out the programme we defined. It all started with Oris magazine nearly eighteen years ago. We will soon celebrate the anniversary, as well as the jubilee, 100th issue. Just over a year ago, the House of Architecture was opened, and along with the issuing of the magazine and our “house” programme, we also organize external events, the most significant among them being Days of Oris, a professional manifestation with long-standing tradition, held every autumn at the Vatroslav Lisinski concert hall, but also at other places in Croatia. Days of Oris were even held in the distant city of Ankara one time. The house gallery, i.e. our whole multipurpose space, started operating in January 2015.
Divna Antičević: The guiding principle of the programme of Oris House of Architecture is presenting the entirety of creative and cultural activities, not only architectural, but also photographic, designer, literary, musical… In creating the programme we were guided by the idea that it should be not only diverse in the sense of the representation of different contents, but also inclusive. Lectures by renowned, acclaimed architects are held here, but young people who have not yet established themselves within the profession, but think about it in their own way, also participate. The programme is also very intensive, so the place can really take hold and attract a large, heterogeneous group of people.
Furthermore, we have established a continued and intensive cooperation with architectural and other faculties and students in general. Many students volunteer at the House of Architecture, and some of them even come to work here, because we have secured a small coworking space. An exhibition of the works by the students of Landscape Architecture at the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb was held last year; Art Academy students have also exhibited their work here, etc. We want the programme to be a collage of various contents, but in a quality way. I would say that we have managed to break through little by little. One of the factors that contribute to a large number of visitors is the fact that Oris magazine and Days of Oris have existed for many years, and that is where we have gained the trust of our primary, professional audience, which has meanwhile been expanded. New people come all the time. I think we manage to be attractive to all generations.
Andrija Rusan: I would like to point out that we are extremely glad that students of different faculties participate in the programme, such as the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (Art History), Faculty of Agronomy (Landscape Architecture), Faculty of Textile Technology… We have organized several Sunday concerts of Zagreb Flutists Ensemble, which had extremely good attendance. We sometimes joke about how we should rename the place to Home of Culture instead of House of Architecture. We were given the space through a public city tender, and we thought it was good from the start, although it was much bigger than it was needed. Today we think it could be even bigger, especially when it comes to exhibitions!
It took us a while to realize that we were in the vicinity of various convenient contents, spaces that are an extension of the atmosphere in the neighbourhood, which is closely related to design, art, architecture and creativity in general. I think that the convergence of such contents here happened by chance, but we have all become aware that something new is going on in the neighbourhood. We hope that the Design District Zagreb project will help turn that trend into a brand, and gradually a tradition, which would raise the significance of the neighbourhood and deepen its identity. Maybe in a few years people will say: “Let’s go there, because it’s fantastic!”