Rok Oman & Spela Videcnik / OFIS ARCHITECTS (SI)

Related Projects: Belgrade Design Week Festival 2011

Ofis Architects is Slovenian architectural practice established in 1996 by Rok Oman (1970) and Spela Videcnik (1971), both graduated from the Ljubljana School of Architecture and London’s Architectural Association, by which time they had already won several prominent competitions, such as Football Stadium Maribor and the Ljubljana City Museum extension and renovation.

In 2001 they were awarded with the UK and Ireland’s prestigious ‘Young architect of the year award’. The young, international team is based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. They work and communicate internationally, taking part in competitions and architectural discourse worldwide. They won a large business complex in Venice Marghera, Italy and a residential complex in Graz, Austria. However, it was by winning 180 apartments in Petit Ponts, Paris, their first large scale development to be constructed abroad, which led them to open a branch office in France, 2007. This has been followed by a second large scale development with the construction of a football stadium in Borisov, Belarus, due for completion is 2012. They have partner firm agreements in the UK, France, Germany, Russia, Belarus and Qatar.

The beginnings of Ofis’ activities dates back to the nineties, which was a particularly exciting yet difficult period for the former Yugoslavian republics that were undergoing intense self-re-evaluation and reinvention from scratch, economically and culturally. In terms of architecture this meant that most of the larger architectural offices had to be scaled down or went bankrupt and so creating an empty space for younger groups or individuals to participate in architectural competitions. Back then the young Oman and Videcnik managed to impress the jurors with original thinking and clear concepts.

They have won several national and international competitions. Most of their projects have been nominated for Mies van der Rohe award, in 2009 they received a Silver IOC/IAKS medal for football stadium, in 2006 they received the European Grand Prix for Innovation Award, in 2005 their Villa under-extension received an honorable mention at the Miami Bienal, in 2004 they were highly commended for their City Museum renovation and extension by the UK Architectural Review’s annual AR+D awards, and in 2000 they won the prestigious “Young architect of the year” award in London, UK, Core 77 design build award, USA for Alpine Shelter in 2016, AIA New England design award, Boston, USA for Alpine Shelter in 2015, Golden Pencil Award 2013 , Space Habitable Wheel , Ljubljana , Slovenia to mention just a few of their achievements.

Running in the morning through the city (down what the germans call a fussgangerzone) and being amazed by all the grand empty old buildings that reminded me of my Berlin beginnings. Grafitti on buildings. Lovely broken walls with acne'd facades from decades of reverse engineering. Discovering that all the ships on the river were party boats and open till the morning. Sweating so much in one of the clubs, my phone got messed up. Losing phone in said club. Visiting belgrade police station to report a then stolen phone to a twenty-something cop with a doctor's lab coat, listening to Rammstein (loudly) while hacking out my report on a pre-electric typewriter that looked (and sounded) as if it was from some era before typewriters were invented.   Thinking of Naked Lunch. Thinking of Die-Hard. Listening to architects talk about porous facades. Thinking of old smart bombs. Imagining the flash and crunch of several floors of reinforced concrete collapsing in on themselves. Wondering why I'm the only interactive guy here. Why are there so many beautiful women in Belgrade? Why are there so many beautiful women in Belgrade?!