Švicarija, which operates as part of the International Centre of Graphic Arts, was established on the initiative of the Municipality of Ljubljana in 2017 after a thorough renovation of the building was completed.
In 1835, the Ljubljana Kazina Association opened a place of amusement with a guest house for its members on the hillock above Grad Tivoli. Between 1852 and 1856, the Austrian Marshal Joseph Radetzky lived in the mansion. He had the surroundings landscaped and a Swiss-style house, called Schweizerhaus, or Švicarija, built beside the existing guest house. The guest house was much loved by the inhabitants of Ljubljana and foreign visitors, even though at the beginning of the 20th century the building no longer met the modern requirements for a guest house. On the initiative of Ivan Kenda, the then tenant of Švicarija, Mayor Ivan Hribar proposed to the City Council the construction of a new guest house. When Švicarija was demolished in 1908 and Tivoli Hotel was built in its place according to the plans of the architect Ciril Metod Koch, various Slovenian clubs and associations found a place for meetings and social gatherings there. The hotel soon became a meeting place for Ljubljana's citizens, artists and bohemians, and on 1 May, also for workers. Ivan Cankar, who also lived in the former Tivoli Hotel for a short time in 1909, Vladimir Levstik, Cvetko Golar, as well as others, met in the 'peasant room'.
In the 1930s, Russian war fugitives were accommodated in the rooms and arranged them into modest apartments. Before the Second World War, a seminal moment occurred in the former Tivoli Hotel. The sculptor Ivan Zajec, the man who created the Prešeren Monument, set up a studio in one of the rooms. After the end of the Second World War, many prominent Slovenian sculptors followed suit, and Švicarija became the cradle of post-war Slovenian sculpture. In the wake of the situation, the slowly collapsing and overgrown building became a refuge for the most diverse groups of people, who breathed new life into Švicarija. Despite the many aggravating circumstances and the diversity of individual fates of its inhabitants, the peculiarity of the hotel building enabled the formation of a community through an unexpected succession of users. This gave the building meaning and ensured its continued existence to this day.
In 2008, the City of Ljubljana decided to revive the hidden gem in the middle of the forest, return it to the citizens and establish a lively artistic and social centre there. And so began the lengthy process of finding nineteen replacement apartments for the residents and eight studios for the artists who created there. At the same time, the preparation of the documentation took place, which had to follow the new programme guidelines of Švicarija with spaces for public programmes and art studios, as well as the quality restoration of the cultural monument. The renovation of the building lasted until May 2017, when the construction and finishing works were completed, followed by orders for the supply and installation of furniture and fittings. The building was handed over to the management of the International Centre of Graphic Arts, whose vision is to build the new cultural, educational and social centre MGLC Švicarija in Ljubljana. We have already approached this with the exhibition project Švicarija: Community, Art and Nature, whose message has become (and continues to be) the leitmotif of the new MGLC Švicarija.
Selection of projects:
- Promenade Family Festival and Voices of Tivoli, storytelling about Švicarija, storytelling about Švicarija (19. 5. 2018)
- Marathon of Lectures on the Architectural History, Life in Švicarija and Its Renovation (21. and 22. 9. 2018)
- Thinking Tivoli – Challenges of Holistic Urban Park Management (12. 10. 2018)
Hotel Tivoli on old postcards in the first period of operation, before the addition of pantries next to the kitchen.
Source: ZVKDS Archive OE Ljubljana.