New Synagogue - Žilina - Slovakia
The New Synagogue was constructed between 1928 and 1931 to the design of the German modernist architect Peter Behrens. After the second world war the building was taken over by the town hall for cultural purposes, including an assembly hall for the University and a cinema. Basically the reconstruction aims at removal of the alterations being made due to the different functions the building has taken over the years - for instance the construction of the auditorium and the stage, the paneling or the projection room. Doing this, PLURAL had focused on the removal of the unauthentic paneling, lower ceilings and plaster walls, that were, by shutting space and windows, an obstacle to the incident light. In this vein they have opened the cupola , and the main room now have it‘s original height of 17 meters. The aim is to create an exhibition space for contemporary art and other cultural activities with international dimensions.
Everything started, when, at the beginning of 2011 the synagogue was looking for a new tenant, PLURAL decided to sign the lease after presenting the reconstruction plans and common discussion about their ideas of how to use the synagogue; they got a symbolic rent as a contribution of the owner to their project.
For the preparation of the project documentation, they cooperate with Monuments Board of Zilina Distric. Thanks to the nonprofit intention, the project has created a team of more than 20 experts- cultural activists and curators, architectural historians and restores, architects and designer who, everyone from his point of view, took the work to the next level. Despite the task is much bigger than it might seen at first glances, this project has the support of dozen of small and large corporate supporters and nearly two thousand private donors who have contributed. This is why I named the strategy for this building: Cultura Catalysis. Catalysis comes from the Greek word that means “to break, to release”, and in science it is a chemical reaction due to the participation of an additional substance called a catalyst.
[project selected by Eleonora Sbrissa]