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Modern Architecture and Design the Building - Royal University Library & the Royal Land Archives - Set

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Technical details
  • 01.12.2014
  • Damir Fabijanić, photographer, Zagreb
  • AKD d.o.o., Zagreb
  • Multicolor Offset Printing
  • 4 Colours
  • 42,60 x 35,50 mm
  • 0.60
About Modern Architecture and Design the Building - Royal University Library & the Royal Land Archives

The building of the Royal University Library and the Royal Land Archives, completed in 1913, is among the most representative examples in the series of ‘‘temples’’ of national culture built in the parks of the Green Horseshoe in Zagreb. We are dealing here with the masterpiece in which the principles of modern architecture and design combined with the functionality and aesthetics of the Art Nouveau’s Gesamtkunstwerk are in the best way unified with the presentation of cultural policy.
In response to the bidding ''for building new Land Library and for new environment arrangement in the Western Park'' published in 1909, from nine received bids the project by Rudolf Lubynski (1873-1935), one of the protagonists of Art Nouveau in Croatia, was selected.
Monumental ''library palace’’ in Zagreb was designed according to highest library standards of the period. At that time the most advanced technology of building with iron reinforced concrete skeleton on steel bearings with concrete protection coating and concrete ceiling partitions was used and this complex enterprise was entirely accomplished by national builders. Modular space organisation enabled a pronounced functional structure of the interior composed of areas serving different purposes, with the centre of gravity on the central axe connecting all spaces of the building from the main entrance and vestibule with staircase to the first floor and through atrium to the great Student Reading Room with 176 seats.
As for the painting and sculpture decorations which create an integral iconographic program of the spiritual identity of national culture, leading Croatian artists of the time were engaged. The themes were chosen by the district-prefect of the time, the nobleman Janko Jelačić and the positioning of particular decorations was decided by Lubynski. Vlaho Bukovac made for the great reading room a painting Development of our literature, while other themes were painted by Menci Klement Crnčić, Oton Iveković, Robert Auer, Mirko Rački, Ivan Tišov, Ferdo Kovačević and Gabrijel Jurkić. The bronze reliefs were made by the sculptress Mila Wodesalek-Vod, while Robert Frangeš and Rudolf Valdec were entrusted the sculpture works on facades. In the gable of the south facade Valdec made the relief allegory of book trade and on the main north facade Frangeš realised relief allegories representing “Medicine, Theology, Philosophy and Law“. The building was surmounted with the dome flanked with four owls in copper - symbols of knowledge and wisdom. Lubynski managed to express his creative potential with equal success also as designer. Complete furniture was made according to his drafts in the renowned carpenter's company of Anton Kontak; Lubynski also envisaged the whole ensemble of decorative and functional equipment from metal as well as the ceiling lustres and lamps.
The monumental and representative architectural expression from the boundary between Art Nouveau and Neoclassicism bears the symbols of highest spiritual values. The exterior is characterised by the balanced rhythm of vertical, articulated openings and pilasters with the strongly accentuated entrance portal, risalith and the dome above the main facade. The equipment and decoration of the interior are also characterised by pronounced representative features. In the great student reading room the geometrism and the tectonics of space create a framework for universal values of national cultural history represented through the iconographic program, while the top workmanship and accomplishment of furniture and carefully chosen materials bestow to the whole ambience a highly aestheticized character. The example of table lamps from professors' reading room point to the special function which in the shaping of interior lighting fittings and its many types, top quality materials and refined design, represents a separate theme in the individualisation of the interior.
As a whole and in every particular detail, the building of the Royal University Library and the Royal Land Archives - today the Croatian State Archives - fulfils the tendency of the Art Nouveau style toward total artistic work. Its final reach is the synthesis of architecture, visual arts and design, while it achieves its real meaning in becoming the quality of everyday life, comparable with European concepts of the time.

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