Vir fotografije: ZVKDS

Revitalization of the Horticultural Garden

Marjan Šorli and Urška Ogorevc: Pavilion in Kranj, 1953: Detail in the architectural composition

Authors: Matic Barlovič, Tita Urh, Luka Tomažič, Miha Jereb, Joan Pérez Barrios, Nicolás Gajón Marqués / Mentors: prof. Jurij Sadar, assistant. Ana Kreč
March 8, 2023
to March 27, 2023
Mergentaler's Street Gallery of Layer House and TAM-TAM
Street exhibition of posters as part of the Architecture and Community cycle [O]

Students of the Faculty of Architecture in the elective course Detail in architectural composition under the mentorship of prof. Jurij Sadar and asst. Ana Kreč are introduced to the architecture of the  architect Marjan Šorli from Kranj. The starting points of the project task include getting to know the architectural heritage of Kranj from the 20th century and researching the work of Marjan Šorli through his architecture, urban planning principles and design. The group devotes special emphasis to researching Šorli's detailing, attitude to natural materials and to the skillful combination of natural and cultural context. Students get to know the buildings, study the documentation of the Institute for Cultural Heritage of Slovenia and study the relationship of the buildings with the wider environment in which they are placed.

Special attention is paid to the pavilion of the Horticultural Society and the garden, which are both in need of renovation. The project group, led by the Horticultural Society and Zavod Carnica with professional partners (UL, Faculty of Architecture, Faculty of Natural Sciences, etc.) is planning a multi-year revitalization, which is expected to be completed on the 50th anniversary of the death of the architect Marjan Šorli (2025). The first phase of the project, which includes a snapshot of the existing situation, the preparation of proposals for program renovations of the pavilion and accompanying professional, educational, artistic and promotional activities, is being launched at the BIEN Art Biennale, which takes place between May 31 and August 10, 2023. Biennale, which primarily presents textile art, and its program also includes projects that reinterpret the heritage of the area. By drawing attention to the architectural heritage of Marjan Šorli, the biennale aims to leave an important contribution in the design of new spaces for the communities of Kranj.

Marjan Šorli graduated in 1940 from Professor Jože Plečnik at the Technical Faculty in Ljubljana. He belonged to the generation of architects who immediately after the war took on the burden of reconstruction and tackled all kinds of architectural and urban planning tasks. He was active in the field of architecture, urban planning and design, and also wrote professional articles.

In 1952 he went to the United States as a Fulbright scholar and specialized in housing and urban planning with one of the greatest architects of the time, Frank Lloyd Wright, and a few years later he taught at a college in Birmingham, England. As a first-generation modernist, Marjan Šorli interwoven the influences of Plečnik’s school, modernist spatial concept and local context in his works. Among his architectural legacy are some of the most beautiful examples of Slovenian post-war regionalism. His creative oeuvre was composed and characterized by an extraordinary knowledge of detailing and materials and a subtle attitude to the natural and cultural context.

In 1957, he became the city architect of Kranj, where he left a big mark with his many works. Among his more important projects in Kranj, it is worth mentioning Prešernov gaj (Prešeren grove), the Pavilion of the Horticultural Garden, the City Butcher’s on Maister Square, the confectionery-cafe, the Merkur office building in the city, the kindergarten on Planina and the skyscraper. At the beginnings of Kranj’s expansion outside the old town, he designed a trio of buildings – a tower – a block – a cube, which today houses Gorenjski Glas, among others.

Kranj skyscraper, Marjan Šorli, 1962 – 1964

In 1964, the Kranj skyscraper became the first high-rise in Kranj and for eight years also the tallest in Slovenia. The project consists of a high-rise building, a communal bank building and a pharmacy. All three buildings are connected in an architectural whole that surrounds the central square. A special feature for that time was the facade covered in aluminum sheet.

Prešernov Gaj, Marjan Šorli and Urška Ogorevc, 1951 – 1952

In 1952, Prešeren’s grove was transformed from the old city cemetery into a memorial park. Despite the transfer of most of the remains to the new city cemetery, some more important tombstones and monuments have been preserved. Paved stone paths lead through it, some preserved to this day, which meet in the central part under the memorial shed. This represents one of Šorli’s interventions in the park.

Pavilion of the Kranj Horticultural Society, Marjan Šorli and Urška Ogorevc, 1953

The pavilion was built in 1953 as public toilets for the Gorenjska fair, which was one of the central events in Kranj for many years. At the beginning, the fair events were organized in the Workers’ Home and partially also in the Simon Jenko Elementary School and in other locations. In 1971, an exhibition hall designed by the architect Savin Sever was built on Sava Island (Majdič grove). The planned large-scale construction was supposed to occupy almost the entire island, but only the first phase was realized.

Renovation of Šorli’s pavilion

The main renovation of the pavilion was carried out in 1988 by Sonja Sekavčnik. The renovation included rehabilitation of the existing masonry, covering of the walls and the pavilion with a gable roof, closing of freely accessible rooms with glass walls and doors, adaptation of rooms in the existing building and furnishing of the interior rooms. The renovation was not carried out in its entirety, as the exterior spaces were not glazed. The purpose of the renovation was also to change the purpose of the pavilion. The new purpose has been preserved until today. The pavilion and garden were thus intended for the Horticultural Society of Kranj.

The current state differs from the original state mainly due to a different roof that replaced the wooden pergola, paving outside and also inside the pavilion, and an unnecessary door that separates the garden from public life.

The building is currently in extremely poor condition and is in need of renovation. It is necessary to respect the original design of architect Šorli and adapt the building to modern needs.


The need to revitalize the pavilion and garden of the Horticultural Society and their surroundings arose after two pandemic years, which also left consequences in the garden. Despite the fact that the society manages a green area that could serve the general public, who undoubtedly wants to use the garden, quiet contemplation, walk and talk next to the unique collection of native plants, the pond and in the shade of the pavilion, the space faces many problems: insufficient systemic funding, insufficient understanding of public space by decision-makers, especially the importance of green areas in urban centers at a time of increasingly hot summer temperatures, and still too little awareness of the importance of gardens and pavilions among residents and visitors. With the planned revitalization, the project group, led by the Horticultural Society and Zavod Carnica with professional partners (UL, Faculty of Architecture, Faculty of Natural Sciences, etc.) aims to address various interests and arouse the interest of professionals and lay audiences in Šorli’s original architecture.

Mergentaler's Street Gallery is an art project of Layer House and the TAM-TAM Institute. In the 2023 season, it presents works who address the central theme of Community [O].

Exhibition organization: Layer House, University of Ljubljana Faculty of Architecture, BIEN 2023 Textile Art Biennial

The program of Mergentaler's street gallery in Kranj is co-financed by Carnica Institute and Institute Tam Tam

The Layer House program is co-financed by the Municipality of Kranj

Acknowledgments: Horticultural Society of Kranj, Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia Regional Unit of Kranj

The exhibition is supported by the University of Ljubljana

Archive photo source: Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia

Photo of the exhibition: Maša Pirc