Art gallery in Maribor

A project of an art gallery for an international architectual competition in Maribor - Slovenia (EPK Drava River 2012). Designed equally with Jakub Piotr Kalinowski, Piotr Kus, Krzysztof Rewski.

Description below the drawings.

Click the images to enlarge them.


Urban arrangement

There are two plots given for the project – Study Area “A” Architectural Design and Study Area “B” Urban Layout. One of the main design goals was to make them harmonize with each other. That’s why we thought about relationship between the new volumes, taking into consideration both design areas. There are 2 buildings on Study Area “B” – hotel and apartments. Both are four stories high.

Hotel’s location can ensure its high standard. It can be a good supplement for just four residential apartments in UGM’s program. Neighboring Street E is a public promenade and it raises the attractiveness of the hotel.

Apartment quarter creates a continuation of Koroska Cesta street’s frontage which currently has a gap. Apartment building has a U-shaped plan, open towards south direction.

Architectural idea

During the design process, we came across many doubts about the future architectural expression of the new spatial addition in the existing context. The given functional programme made it clear that the new building has to be out of nearby architectural scale. Even though, we decided to make it as neutral as possible.

Simple orthogonal forms and homogeneous, bright hue of the facade makes this building an obvious novelty in it’s architectural environment. Barely clad in detail, it becomes a background for valuable historic context and becomes a symbol itself being one of a kind in it’s surrounding.

We wanted to keep buildings on both sides of street E separate, without any passages above it. This would be inappropriate form in urban fabric of Maribor. We also tried to make the gallery as compact as possible to avoid disharmony in the city outline visible from the river. This idea combined with rich functional program and it’s requirements (like the height of exhibition rooms reaching 12 m) resulted in using the whole available underground area within the boundaries of the plot. We also tried to make the buildings look smaller than they really are. Big scale of exterior walls perforation compared with the size of the building subconsciously suggests that it is smaller.

Social impact

One of the main reasons for choosing this plot for the New UGM was a desire to revaluate an important place close to the historic town centre. The project fulfils this task both on aesthetic and social fields. Street E is a public space melting into the building’s City Living Room, which covers eastern part of Level 0 and an independently open strip on southern side of Level -1. This is where the catering area is located. It attracts people walking along the river bank. This longitudinal passage is also organized as an extra temporary exhibition space for pieces of art which are resistant to direct sunlight.

Inviting nature of ground level of the building along with every-day program like restaurant, club, shops and internet point makes it attractive to a broad audience. Even people who aren’t keen on experiencing art so much would find this place interesting. Once they are there, it’s easier to tempt them inside the actual exhibition.


2 year’s completion time of the project on such scale requires paying big attention to the costs and the level of difficulty in building process. That’s why we are proposing mainly low-tech ecological solutions. They cost less and are more reliable than highly complicated systems, which are not only expensive but very often actually harmful to the environment. F.eg. producing solar panels takes more energy and generates more CO2 than heating a building with gas instead. We wanted New UGM to be an example showing that inexpensive and simple solutions can very helpful in reducing building’s impact on natural environment and it’s maintenance costs like energy consumption and restoration.

We focused on following sustainable solutions:

- Maximum use of local materials (gravel, sand etc.) to minimize transportation costs and pollution.

- Low embodied energy value of used building materials (f.eg. no aluminum or copper panels)

- Cellulose thermal insulation is made 85% from recycled paper. It’s not only environmental friendly but also very healthy.

- Simple geometry of the buildings reduces the area of exterior walls. Cooling or overheating surface is minimized. Very low A/V = 0.12 m-1 factor. Explanation and calculations below.

- Heat exchange system uses ground / water based probes to minimize the amount of energy for heating or cooling the building. High level of underground water is an advantage in this case.

- 2 water reservoirs 2x2x0,5 m which provide extra water for technical needs like flushing the toilets. They are located on top of communication/installation cores (they are heavily constructed anyway so there’s no need for strengthening the structure)

- Eco-education and promoting sustainable means of transportation. Apart from parking garage for cars, we designed secure bicycle stands along street E.

A/V Factor explanation and calculation.

A/V Factor (area vs. volume) describes density of a solid. Smaller factor means that solid is more compact. It also means that there is less area for heat loss or overheating. Typically, A/V factor ranges from 0.25 to 1.0 [m-1] depending on a size and shape of the building. We took the advantage of the big scale of the building and we made it as compact as possible (upper terrace is the only “extravagance” within this concept). Thanks to that we achieved A/V factor = 0.12 m-1 in the main building of UGM.

Input data:

A stands for area of exterior walls (including glazing) and roof.

V is building’s gross volume.

Gross values:

a = 66.70 m – length of the building

b = 49.50 m – width of the building

c = 22.50 m – average height of the building

d = 12.75 m – length of terrace

e = 16.85 width of terrace

f = 6.40 height of terrace wall


V = (a*b*c) – (d*e*f) [m3]

A = (2*a*c) + (2*b*c) + (a*b) /bottom area is not taken into consideration/

Calculation and outcome:

V = (66.77*49.50*22.50) – (12.75*16.85*6.40) = 72912.16 [m3]

A = (2*66.70*22.50) + (2*49.50*22.5) + (66.70*49.50) = 8530.65 [m2]

A/V = 8530.65/72912.16 = 0.12 [m-1]

Economical balance

One of requirements given by the competition curator is good economical balance and flexibility of New UGM. The whole building is based on a common 8,1x8,1m structure grid. It’s constructed in monolithic concrete technology, which is inexpensive, reliable and easy to build. It’s also very universal. It’s used in various types of buildings from housing to offices. That’s why it’s easy to rearrange the interior of the building if it’s needed in the future. It is also open for smaller changes like re-designing the divisions of exhibition space.

Sustainability o the building also results in low maintenance costs. As they are mainly low-tech, they don’t generate extra costs during the building process. You can find more information about that in Sustainability chapter of this booklet.

Functional interactions / flexibility

We inserted the whole program in 2 buildings as we wanted to keep Street E clear. They are connected underground.

Main functions are located in the big gallery building. It contains public program on River level: catering, library, workshops which can be accessible independently from opening hours of the gallery. These functions are also accessible from the main hall and the City’s Living Room which are located next to Street E and the children’s playground. The upper levels of UGM building is organized as exhibition space with its supplementary program. Offices and lecture room are located on top. One of the main reasons to do it this way was an intention to make a big structural span in the lecture room so its space is clear, without any columns. It was only possible on top floor (if you keep in mind the rational investment costs)

The smaller building is also functionally divided in appropriate levels. Ground level is reserved for semi-public multipurpose rooms and Children’s Museum. It has to be safe and well connected with its playground. Next two levels are occupied with Creative Industry Centre and Architectural Centre. Top floor is designed as apartments. They are well exposed to the sunlight and have roof terrace.


Like mentioned in Economical balance chapter, the building is based on 8.1x8.1 m structure grid. The whole plan around the communication cores is free from constructional walls. There are only columns. Horizontal rigidity is ensured by the cores in the middle of the plan and exterior reinforced concrete walls. This means that nearly all of inside walls can be rearranged or even removed.

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