(LANDSCAPE) ARCHITECTURE WITH WINGS
“ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF TRAINING SESSIONS, WE ARE THE BIGGEST CENTRE IN THE WORLD, AND NOW THE WORLD IS COMING TO TRAIN HERE.”
couldn’t have done it by ourselves. Luckily the government decided in 2006 to list Planica among the big projects that can vie for EU grants. The MPs have never been as united as when they discussed the importance of Planica, which has for a long time united the Slovenian nation. But where the majority of people saw Planica as a ski jumping centre and a flying hill, Jelko Gros from the start conceived it as a facility that must be self-sufficient. While garbage is usually the only thing left after the crowds return home following the March finals, Gros wanted people never to really leave Planica. He embarked on a strenuous and long process of purchasing the land, slightly simplified by a law on Planica, while a call for bids was published which won two major awards: one for the buildings and one for landscape architecture. The constructors joined forces and the result is here in front of us – 47 million euro and six years later. “According to the number of training sessions, we are the biggest centre in the world, and now the world is coming to train here. Before money went abroad, but now it is coming here,” Žerjav beamed with pride as he introduced the Planica museum, where visitors can also put themselves in the role of a ski jumping judge.
Under the calming image of eight ski jumping hills, spread out in the form of a fan, is a wealth of cleverly built-in technology, which successfully counters nature’s unpredictability. But the hills are just the backbone of the centre. Surrounding it are 40 kilometres of cross-country tracks, connecting Kranjska Gora, Rateče and Tamar Valley, and seven kilometres of the track are suitable for top flight competitions. The start and finish area has a football court with artificial grass during the summer, playgrounds and, down below, an underground tunnel with 800 metres of cross-country track where the snow never melts. Planica boasts a 3-km long snowboarding track and is traversed by a 25 km bicycle track that begins in village of Mojstrana and continues to Italy. And that football field is really nice to see. Luxury that is not only beautiful but also advanced as it is backed by a carefully thought out plan, respect for nature and architectural courage. There are numerous awards to prove it, including the seminal Slovenian architectural prize – the Plečnik award – shared by several architects who designed various parts of the Nordic Centre: Matej Blenkuš, Miloš Florijančič and Klemen Kobal for designing the sports objects, Aleš Vodopivec and Marko Smrekar for the central cross-country skiing facility, the service and warm-up areas and Ana Kučan and Luka Javornik for landscaping the surroundings. The symbolic meaning of Planica is so rich that it does not need or want an architectural ego trip. Its design is restrained, the same as the environment itself – it allows for sports but also for meditation.