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A Return to Capitalism
With the Republic of Slovenia declaring its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 Slovenia became an honourable member of the world of late capitalism, and in 2004 a member of the European Union. It was what you might call a soft revolution; no long and bloody wars were fought, as we know from the picture books of history. What was once put on hold during the era of President Josi Broz Tito (from 1943 till 1980), namely a society under the guidance of capitalism, was with one declaration of independence invited to take control. The question was not how can we start from scratch and reinvent a new society, clearing the landscape of all existing values, including those of Communism and capitalism. No, the question was how Slovenia could quickly and efficiently make a great leap forward via a return to capitalism. The only complication was that, knocking at the door, late capitalism had converted itself from an industrial to a post-industrial global information society. The classical city, defined in the past as a collective space, had given way to a more private, more commercial city where shopping, tourism and the media changed the very definition of the city and its architecture. In dealing with the urban atomisation of advanced capitalism, the disintegration of social and spatial units, and a culture of sprawl with incidental wonders built by star architects, Slovenia had to look and go abroad something she had already benefited from in the past due to her proximity to neighbouring countries Austria and Italy.

It would take too long to explain in detail why Slovenia became a successful member of the empire of late capitalism, but what can be said of architecture is that several young architects such as Špela Videčnik and Rok Oman of Ofis Arhitekti became familiar with the blurring of the distinctions between art, fashion, high and low culture, design and politics, individualisation, and consumption at the end of the grand narratives of emancipation in the last years of President Tito’s welfare state. Not only Ofis, but other young architects oriented themselves to the West and decided early on in their careers to study architecture in post-Fordist countries like England, the United States of America, the Netherlands and Finland, thus making the leap from a Communist welfare state into a late-capitalist statewith the help of their international aestheticseasier and more promising for Slovenia. From that moment on, a new generation of architects paved the road for Slovenia to move into world capitalism. Like the private investors, the new generation had nothing to lose, no stains of the past. [More ... see PDF]

Gizmo Architecture
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Ofis Arhitekt Rework the Idea of Aesthetics in Architecture

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