Baroque in the Fourth Dimension

Interview with Milan Mijalkovic

Shifting the perspective and interpreting the wish for ornamentation without the use of banalities, this architect captured the attention of both home and worldwide public.





Milan Mijalkovic’s architectural design located on Sts. Cyril and Methodius St. in Skopje has recently caught the attention of the worldwide public. In fact, the facade of the parking garage, rewarded the prize for best architectural project at the traditional event “Architecture of the City of Skopje – ASK” 2013, gained even further recognition in the competition for the most prestigious “Architizer A+” awards, the so-called Oscars of Architecture, in the transportation structures category.
The facade, which meets the requirements for the baroque in a very specific way, has also appeared in a number of major and world-acclaimed architecture and design media, such as the ArchDaily, DesignBoom, Frameweb, Fuzzbiz, +Mood, etc. Skopje native, Milan Mijalkovic, is currently living in Vienna. He says that it is not by mere accident that he has been building a career in both cities simultaneously and was very pleased to respond to our questions about the architectural piece that has sparked a lot of interest with the particularity of its appearance.

The competition called for a facade design in a “baroque, classical, neoclassical, romantic or neo-romantic style”. Instead, you created a provocative and contemporary piece. How did you accomplish this?

“Historicism was one of the architectural styles that encompassed most of the requirements. The rest of the styles were literary. In fact, all we did was shift the perspective. Copying was modified. We interpreted the wish for ornamentation, but avoided using explicitly and banally the language of the abovementioned styles. The starting point for the facade was an amateur photograph showing residential buildings in a Viennese street from a street, i.e. a tourist’s perspective. This perspective was then multiplied and dissolved into several layers to obtain a surface with a completely undefined boundary. What could have been simply a tourist photo became a facade.”

Opinions on your facade vary. What is the aim of the provocative and specific dynamics of the design, raising questions or making a statement?

“Creating space that gives birth to new perceptions is one of my key tasks. Questions and statements come second. If you can explain architecture, then why build it?“

Who did you collaborate with on the project? Did you engage the local architectural milieu or did creative minds from other countries also provide their input?

“In collaboration with PPAG Architects from Vienna, we handed in a design for a parking garage on a different plot located near the City Post Office. After receiving only a purchase prize, we were offered to build the facade of our proposal on another parking garage that was already in the stage of planning undertaken by “Gorichanka”, a firm made up of professors from the Faculty of Architecture and their teaching assistants: Minas Bakalchev, Mitko Hadji-Pulja, Sasha Tasikj, Aleksandar Radevski, Nikola Strezovski and Damjan Momirovski.”

Your book, boldly titled “Skopje, The World’s Bastard: Architecture of the Divided City”, that you co-wrote with Katharina Urbanek, deals with the building continuity in our city. How do you feel about continuity in architecture and do you think that architects are really those who map out the cities?

“Continuity is the defining feature of time and space in the Western world. In the Eastern world, however, continuity is the key aspect of evil, that which does not die or change. It is no coincidence that the founders or builders of the cities throughout history and mythology were predominantly murderers, tyrants, evil folk. Take Romulus for example, the founder of Rome who murders his own brother, then Phalaris, the tyrant architect in Greek mythology, the labyrinth serving as the Minotaur’s prison, or just think about Sodom and Gomorrah. Even in our legends, and the legends of our neighbors, the building of monasteries, cities or forts is very often associated with the laying of sacrifice in the cornerstone as a promise of strong foundations, and eventually, continuity. Today, public spaces designed by architects, as paradoxical as it may seem, must constantly struggle with continuity.”

Nevertheless, continuity is important for the growth of the creative individual. Since you have been brought up by creative individuals yourself, and architects no less, how has it reflected on your work?

“My parents are architects, and my brother is a sculptor. Their influence has been enormous, but I can truly say that my son Vito has influenced me far more. As I mentioned before, continuity is important to the extent that a person must constantly defy it. Totalitarianism is also a form of continuity, but thank God, so is winter and the sunrise.”





Captions:

Before winning popularity at the “Architizer A+” competition, the remarkable building received the prize for best architectural design at the “Architecture of the City of Skopje – ASK” 2013 event.

The distinctively dissolved surface plays with the light and shadows inside the building.

The texture of the facade is in fact a stylized replica of an amateur photograph showing a perspective view of residential buildings in a Viennese street.



2014
Interview done by Zoran Richliev
Tea Moderna No. 702
English translation: Milica Gjorchevska


Mark


Copyright: Milan Mijalkovic, 2018