Opposite as one might expect, the recent renovation of the Lili Novy Hall in Cankarjev dom meant neither a refurbishment nor a complete makeover of the hall, but it rather meant going back to the roots. Namely, when Edvard Ravnikar, the famous Slovenian modernist architect designed Cankarjev dom, which was then being built between 1977 and 1982, he imagined a different look for this particular hall. And once the Cankarjev dom was opened and started operating in 1982, the Lili Novy Hall indeed for many years had the look that its designer initially planned for it.
However, through time, the original Ravnikar’s Lili Novy Hall was turned into a Lili Novy Literary Club with a purpose of being a meeting point of Slovenian writers. In the period of the mentioned purpose, which lasted until the recent renovation, the hall was by its looks away from original Ravnikar’s design: instead of an empty and glamorous space for small gatherings, like meetings of politicians or interviews with conductors, the hall was furnished with book-shelves and many tables, while its colours were in brown and blue palette.
With the new management under the director general of Cankarjev dom, Uršula Cetinski, an idea for bringing the Lili Novy Hall back to life, as it was meant to be in the first place those 40 years ago, was born. The renovations, which lasted somewhere between three to four months, took place and the Lili Novy Hall got recently a new name and its earliest glamourous appearance and style that Ravnikar had imagined for it back.
“Colour palette is now following the initial Ravnikar’s plan,” says architect Andrej Kasal, the main author of the project and an architect who was already involved in Cankarjev dom’s construction as he was for many years in direct connection and the closest colleague of Edvard Ravnikar. “The Institute for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of Slovenia had to approve the colours, the materials and the renovation, as the whole building of Cankarjev dom is protected as a monument of cultural heritage,” emphasizes Andrej Kasal.
Already from the start, Cankarjev dom was special. “It was a huge state-of-the-art project at the time and this can still be visible today,” adds Andrej Kasal who has nothing but admiring words for the one of the greatest architects in Slovenian history, “We are very lucky that we had in our region such a genius architect as Ravnikar. He was never looking into other places, he never was using the, so to say, copy-paste planning, but was extremely brave, innovative and large architect who designed only by his own ideas and inspirations.”
Truly, Ravnikar’s genius and vision can still be admired today at every step around and inside of Cankarjev dom. The renovation of the Lili Novy Glass Hall, thus, properly so brought his visionary style back to where it all started. The 90 sq.m. hall that can accept 70 standing guests or 50 sitting, is on one side overlooking the Grand Reception Hall through a thick glass that works as a sound barrier between both halls, while the windows on the opposite wall provide a warm welcoming daylight. Without a doubt, an inspirational space that on one hand provides an isolation, while one the other still the presence in the midst of this architectural gem that Cankarjev dom was, is and will remain for the generations to come.