A building like a child jigsaw.

The Dušan Jurkovič Award is the highest appreciation awarded by the Slovak Architects Association for a realized project in the field of Slovak architecture. In the beginning of October an international 2004 Jurkovič Award Jury held a session in the SAS. From a list of ten architectural projects signed into this year's competition the Committee has awarded this price to the Art Elementary School in Smižany. Its authors and author associate are Dušan Burák, Michal Burák and Ctibor Reiskup from the Architectural Studio Atrium Košice. “We really appreciate the award,” says Dušan Burák. “It is the ultimate architectural award for the given year. Its long tradition, international jury, international acceptance and the personality of Dušan Jurkovič himself evoke a feeling of humility in us.” The handing over of the award along with the other participated projects exhibition will take place in SAS Bratislava premises on the December 8. 2004.

It could have not been done for less

According to the word of architectttt Dušan Burák from the Atrium Studio in Košice, the awarded building of Art Elementary School in Smižany is a certain breakthrough. It gave them the opportunity to react to number of interesting tasks while having extremely low costs and realization options. It was essential to express the function of the building in a way which would be accepted by children. The building had to be placed integrated into the municipality “organism“ and wider cultural and time ties. The solution was picked through a competition. The concept is eloquent like the world of the children. The architectural team wanted to design a “house“ as a child jigsaw in which every cubicle would represent different creative activity.

“The idea aroused on a Saturday evening,“ says Dušan Burák. “The entrusted investor came to Košice for the research and within a week it was decided. We are the ones to realize the project! Everything took place in September 2002. In may the American investor of Slovak origin Dezider Slavoj talked with the former mayor Vrano. They spoke about his intention to donate his money in order to support children creativity and education towards the end of his life. How about an art school? To keep children away from drugs. After a long discussion with the municipality a corner parcel on the square was chosen. In may 2003 the construction began and on June 22nd 2004 the school was given to Mr. Slavoj as a gift to his 90th birthday which then turned it over to the municipality.

During the realization the Slovak crown became stronger which led to less investment possibilities due to the exchange rate difference. The project covered the possibility of realization in phases but it would disrupt the coherence of the education system. Here the investor moved to his own interpretation of the project. Many things were scratched out. According to Dušan Burák it has lead to continuous surprises on the site. “Sometimes we had the feeling that we insert the typical Slovak minimalism into the project, or “it could not be done for less”. “

Colourful box

Among the biggest perplexities was the question of how to “enter” the environment. There was a number of variants oscillating between traditional and present architecture. The tasks of architectures while modelling the image of the structures were derived from here. To conserve, stabilize, inspire, promote? “We took the advantage of the Spiš cultural and historical tradition and its architectural adaptability. We chose this principle of liberation as a suitable method. We understand the school as a creativity “Box“.

The largest box – the multifunctional hall – is located on the square and the smaller ones on the side streets while their colour represents individual segments of art: orange – dancing, blue – multimedia, green – creative art. The musical studios are situated along the neighbouring parcel. Everything is connected by a passage from which it is possible to see all of the school activities. The constructional frame represents simplicity – brick walls and roof timber with the minimum 6% angle trapeze cladding. Mutual leaning, intersections, skewed gable wall (copying the parcel) and used material add to the dynamic composition. The main accord is cool white, blue, green accented by orange at the entry. But colour can be easily changed and the object will develop according to its needs.

Serving the society

Architectural Studio Atrium is a space in which has housed more than one architectural personalities. Its philosophy is to provide balanced view from the whole to details, from urban solution, architecture and interior. “We view architecture as a servant of the society. We therefore search for ways to the truth and simplicity. The result is always the work of the group. We invite other colleagues architects, artists and civil engineering for cooperation”.

From the building which were designed in Atrium we might mention Fire Station in Markušovce, Roman Catholic Church Sokoľ, House of Humanity Ľubica, reconstruction of a division building in Košice. The biggest realization was the pedestrian precinct Liptovský Mikuláš which made into the CE.ZA.AR. Award finale. The most interesting was the project of International Olympic Committee Seat in Poprad during the 2006 Winter Olympic Games Poprad – Tatry candidacy. The part of Atrium's work are also urban activities and ground planning. As Dušan Burák states there is a number of interesting projects on their table but he does not wish to be concrete. Atrium also deals with the hiking and bicycle transportation in the city and participates in the national Zlatá Žila award thanks to their contribution in this field.

Ľudo Petránsky, ASB Magazine