Arhitektura Jure Kotnik
Tomšičeva 1, SI-1000 Ljubljana
386 (0) 41 340 963
Kotnik graduated from the Faculty of Architecture in Ljubljana in 2006 with a thesis on container architecture supervised by renowned professor of urban architecture Janez Koželj. This led to the publication of Container Architecture in 2008, his first book and indeed the first book on the subject anywhere. It became an international bestseller and won the 2009 Plečnik Medal, the highest national award for architectural publication. In 2011 Kotnik curated the world's first container architecture exhibition, which opened in Seattle before moving on to Berlin, Paris and other cities. His second full-length study, New Container Architecture, was published in 2013.
During this period, AJK was involved in several container construction projects, including the 2+ Weekend House (2007–2008), a dual-level mini housing unit using two containers placed perpendicular to each other and erected in Trebnje, a mobile playground in Lyon (2012–), and the container building that houses the RogLab design facility in Ljubljana (2012).
With containers quickly establishing themselves as an environmentally friendly and mobile form of architecture for everything from shops to housing units, AJK's (and Kotnik's) attention began to turn towards another area of building design that benefits greatly from sustainability, pre-fabrication and cost-effectiveness. That said, some of AJK's early forays into educational architecture, in its case pre-schools and kindergartens, continued the container theme. A set of three containers were installed as a temporary extension to the Ajda Kindergarten in Ravne na Koroškem in 2009, which led to the commissioning of a permanent extension, comprising 16 containers, two years later. As well as providing an amount of classroom space far exceeding the state-set minimum, the kindergarten also boasts a "didactic" magnetic façade that provides children with the scope to make changes to the look of the exterior.
The extensions to the Jelka and Kekec kindergartens (2010) in Ljubljana dispensed with containers, instead opting for prefabricated timber, although control of the façade was again ceded to the children in the latter case, with painted movable slats enabling them to make instant changes to the colour combinations. Minimising disruption and cost, another key element of AJK's approach to educational architecture, the school took only three days to build.
Locally sourced timber comprised the bulk of the highly energy-efficient Šmartno Kindergarten (2015), which dispensed with corridors in order to open up more space for peer interaction and free choice, in line with the school's learning philosophy. As with Kekec, the building was erected very quickly (four months). Podgorje, again in Kotnik's home region of Koroška, was the setting for the company's next educational building, a school and kindergarten constructed in 21 weeks in 2016. The building open-plan format means that 85% of the floor area is given over to the children. As with all of the studio's school work, the layout is aimed at enabling children to move freely and work together, increasing the opportunities for physical activity and peer-learning.
One of several projects that AJK has realised abroad, and the first public building in Belarus to be made of wood, Minsk Sports Kindergarten (2015) is a further example of Kotnik's keen interest in building design that encourages children to be physically active and aids the education process itself, a central theme of his three books on the subject: Kindergarten Architecture (2011), New Designs in Kindergartens (2015) and Designing Spaces for Early Childhood Development (2017).
When Jure Kotnik was named in 2016 as one of the most promising architects in Europe under the age of 40 (the annual "40 Under 40" awards programme organised by the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies in Dublin and the Chicago Athenaeum), three AJK projects were cited: the Kekec and Ajda kindergartens, and Forma Vila (completed in 2013), one of the rare excursions by the studio into the field of residential architecture. Set, like Ajda, in the steel-making town of Ravne na Koroškem, Forma Vila uses materials to forge a striking sustainable, low-maintenance, energy-efficient family house that gestures, in name and form, towards the adjacent Forma Viva steel sculpture park.
Jure Kotnik became a World Bank consultant in 2011 and a consultant for the Council of Europe Development Bank a year later. He travels widely, lecturing and consulting on educational architecture. In 2012 he was visiting professor at the École Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris and, from 2015, worked with the Steve Jobs School in Amsterdam on developing innovative learning environments.