Ljubljana’s Cankarjev dom unveils new hall

The Alma Karlin Hall, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, photo: J. Marolt
The Alma Karlin Hall, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, photo: J. Marolt

Slovenia’s main cultural and congress center, Cankarjev dom, is enriched with a new hall named after the world traveler and renowned Slovenian writer Alma Karlin.

The Alma Karlin Hall is a unified and open space on the fifth floor of Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana, stretching over approximately 400 square meters, with a horizontal band of windows that offers a panoramic view of the western part of Ljubljana. The architectural design follows the original ideas of the famous Slovenian architect Edvard Ravnikar, which draw inspiration from the ancient history of the city of Ljubljana and return to the tradition of antiquity with modernist tendencies towards a democratic public space. Upon entering the space, a modern reinterpretation of the agora, a public space, is revealed, which through the paraskenion uncovers new views while also concealing technical-service areas of the space.

The space can be (optionally) divided into a theater section and a book club. The book club section is intended for meetings, exchanging opinions, as well as various lectures, round tables, and recitals. The circular stage in the theater section offers performers and visitors a genuine experience of an ancient theater. The revolving partition that encircles the stage allows for a smaller performance area or openness to the entire length of the space. The design follows the original idea of Professor Ravnikar, who designed a circular apse above the fourth floor of the Cankarjev dom building.

The Alma Karlin Hall, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana,  photo: J. Marolt
The Alma Karlin Hall, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, photo: J. Marolt

Elegance meets sustainability: Modern Equipment with sustainable components

The equipment in the space is thoughtful, functional, and minimalist. Comfortable, upholstered, and movable cubes can serve as seats, benches, or loungers, allowing for various types of group or individual arrangements. Two retractable screens are installed in the space, allowing for top-quality visual video performances, while a small terrace surrounding the southern part of the hall offers opportunities for pleasant socializing and gatherings after events.

The choice of materials and elements in the hall follows the principles of sustainability and environmental protection: wall and ceiling coverings made of wood fibers, a floor covering that contains sixty percent recycled material, all lights are in LED technology, and the sound and multimedia technical equipment is of the highest energy class. The chairs (designed by Primož Jeza Studio for Donar) are made exclusively from recycled materials, which have saved the planet from 4200 discarded half-liter plastic bottles and 126 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

Alma M. Karlin (1889-1950) – A World Traveler, Writer, and Polymath

Alma M. Karlin was a Slovenian world traveler, writer, amateur researcher, polyglot, and theosophist. She spoke nine languages and traveled the world alone from 1919 to 1927, earning a living through her own work and thereby defying the prejudices and limitations that were placed on women at the beginning of the 20th century. The nature of her travels places her among the greatest explorers of all time. She was unconventional, strong-willed, and uncompromising. Her dream of fame and success as a young girl was fulfilled through her travel trilogy, which was published in Germany between 1929 and 1933.

However, her life took a tragic turn after the German occupation of Celje in the spring of 1941. She was arrested and scheduled for deportation to Dachau, but was able to avoid that fate. Unfortunately, her life after that was not much better, and she died in 1950 after a long illness and in great poverty. Despite this, Alma M. Karlin remains an inspiration to many, and her travels and writings continue to inspire generations of travelers and explorers.

"Every person who crosses our path is our teacher, who unknowingly or knowingly shapes our character, so that we can compare our soul to a passport, in which everyone who has touched our destiny has left their visa or stamp. Whether strong or weak, no one is completely erased." Alma M. Karlin.