Bloudek Ski jump. In a forest high up the hill, a tower rises towards the sky. The wandering passers-by observe it only when they are already quite near. A small ridge protects it from the gaze of most people on the Sunday stroll on Rožnik, a woodland park in the middle of the Slovene capital city Ljubljana. The tower is empty but not yet exactly a ruin: a sturdy construction of reinforced concrete and brick resists weathering better than anyone would expect. The materials don’t possess merely structural but exhibit also aesthetic qualities with the light-grey concrete strips and rows of bricks in between.
It is perhaps this aesthetically calculated appearance that raises interest and dismisses the sight as merely another example of civic infrastructure. The tower is the last remnant of the Bloudek ski jump. Constructed in 1954, in a time that encouraged mass physical activity, the ski jump was designed by the foremost Slovene engineer specialised in airplanes, automobiles and sports infrastructure. Already in the 1930s, Stanko Bloudek designed the legendary ski jump in Planica where the first jump over 100 meters took place in 1936. The Ljubljana ski jump, constructed with much more modest means and within much more modest space than in Planica, nevertheless exhibits some of the clear, rational and daring design Bloudek is known for. The construction enjoyed a period of popularity and was used mostly for recreational and training purposes, but competitions were organised there as well. In words of one of the locals, people were out more and winter had more snow then. In 1967 the ski jump ceased to operate. The jumping platform was wooden and is long since gone, but the high tower within which the staircase for the jumpers was located still stands.
The brief period of activity is understandable. When constructed, the ski jump would lead the skiers toward a small meadow at the foot of a hill in what was then still almost a village on the edge of Ljubljana. Barely a dozen years later, the skiers were jumping towards the finish in what became a proper modernist city: the area was urbanised, a hospital was built across the street, the roads were widened and apartment towers were beginning to be constructed. Another set of ski jumps was constructed at the other side of the hill, in a more secluded and spacious place. Symbolically and practically, the monumental tower did not make much sense anymore. The wooden ramp and other ephemeral elements of the ski jump decayed quickly; the tower remained. To a knowledgeable gaze, it still speaks of its long-forgotten function: the openings for doors and windows, the remains of the staircase leading to the jumping platform and the places where the construction of the jumping ramp was joined with the tower reveal the structure as a mere missing part of larger infrastructural equipment. The drastic difference in the endurance of its elements: concrete, brick and now missing wood, transforms the tower into an architectural equivalent to an archaeological skeleton: a mere fragment of what the area was like in the past, but a durable fragment that enables the gaze to reconstruct the missing whole.
Text by Miloš Kosec; Researcher Danica Sretenović
1954Ski jumping hill
1966 Ski jumping hill fail to fulfill the international competition’s standards, the plans for the new accompanying stadium and tribunes rejected; Wooden Take off table demontaged
2018 The tower in the woods
1954 Smučarski klub Enotnost
1966 Smučarski klub Enotnost
2018 Mestna Občina Ljubljana
Form of government
1954 Socialistic Federative Republic Yugoslavia
1966 Socialistic Federative Republic Yugoslavia
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection
1954 Not recognized as heritage
1966 Not recognized as heritage
2018 Landscape heritage within the Park Tivoli