Garage complex in Ljubljana with the official designation TGH-48 was designed by one of the Slovene foremost modernist architects Savin Sever in 1969. Sever, a pupil of Edvard Ravnikar, dedicated much of his career to infrastructural buildings and car-related services. TGH-48 complex is perhaps the most unique of his garage buildings. Standing in a relatively exposed and visible location near the river and the city centre conditioned a specific and innovative rather than generic and already existing solution. Neighbouring two earlier monumental infrastructural edifices, the famous Ljubljanica Sluice Gate built by Jože Plečnik and the vast early 19th century Sugar Factory, the Sever Garage succeeds in adding an ambitious modernist air to an otherwise banal communal programme.
The building is conceived as two complementary and partially overlapping cylinders. The perimeter of the cylinders is designed as a continuous row of garage compartments with industrial glazing providing for light and ventilation. The rhythm of compartments and of structural elements of the envelope is readily visible on the façade – the deep recesses between them and the circular façade create a dynamic play of light and shadows that changes throughout the day. The interior is consists of an internal two-lane road that takes up the central parts of the two cylinders. Winding its way towards the top, the road alternates between one and the other cylinder in the form of figure eight. The result is somewhat contradictory both a useful and monumental building, an economic and at the same time wasteful spatial design that seems to be more obsessed with the idea of rationality than the imminent rational task at hand: the economic distribution of parked cars.
This might be the reason why this built apotheosis of infrastructural consistency and architectural rationality has long been threatened with destruction precisely because it reputedly became useless and irrational. Its structural frame is at the same time the relatively dense spatial definition of the car compartments. As the complex was designed for the relatively small cars of the 1960s, as soon as the average car became bigger, the car compartments became less useful or even too small altogether. In addition, soon after the collapse of socialism, the building was privatised. 475 parking compartments were sold to individuals; the ownership of the building became dispersed and all but chaotic. The bigger cars, as well as the changed political and economic conditions, rendered the once perfectly functioning infrastructural machine into a largely obsolete fragmented building. The contrast between the architectural quality of the building and its hindered functionality has conditioned the dilemmas surrounding it for the past thirty years. New uses were sought for the building, municipal archives among them. The building was already designated for destruction as well as for heritage protection; neither materialised yet and the two-round envelopes containing small cars, private storage spaces and empty booths, awaits its future in limbo. Perhaps it will be lucky enough to be left in peace until political and economic conditions change again and find a new, as of yet unpredictable use for the two cylinders.
Text by Miloš Kosec
Researcher Danica Sretenović
1969Infrastructure / car park
2018 Infrastructure / car park, storage space, homeless shelter
2018 475 privately owned garages (app. 10 garages owned by MOL (Municipality of Ljubljana), the rest are property of natural persons
2018 Metalka Stanovanjske storitve d.o.o
Form of government
1969 Socialistic Federative Republic Yugoslavia
2018 Presidental democracy
Spatial Planning Agency
1969 Zavod za planiranje SRS (Biro za regionalno prostorsko planiranje (Biro RPP)
Type of heritage and protection
1969 Not recognized as heritage
2018 Not recognized as heritage