Split Boutique Hotel Briig Wins Distinguished Architecture Award

Daniela Rogulj

April 29, 2020 – Although its modern architecture, which significantly deviates from the Bacvice environment, has caused a lot of controversy and various criticisms, Boutique Hotel Briig in Split has won the prestigious Big SEE Architecture Award 2020.

The symmetrical white building was designed by Damir Rako and Maja Tedeschi, and the award was completely unexpected. The entire team involved in this four-year project, Rako said in an interview with Dalmacija Danas, showed that Split can still do something new and different, which is recognized by the experts at the international level.

Big SEE is an association that awards not only in architecture but also in other creative industries in Southeastern Europe. It covers 19 countries and about 350 million people, which is an extensive area and encourages architects, designers and creators of different profiles, Rako said. The headquarters of the association, he added, is located in Ljubljana, where a major festival will be held in October at which the hotel will be presented.

“We’re really surprised. The award has arrived without any announcement, so this week we should send the material and prepare a presentation for the big exhibition that will be held within the festival. I have to admit that this award really means a lot to us because the hotel was quite demanding to execute,” the architect said. 

Briig, as he explains, is the first design hotel of this type in Dalmatia. In its lobby, monumental curved black stairs stand out, while the center of the hotel is an internal atrium, broken out like an exterior facade. The vertical square opening, located in the middle of the building, rises to the glass roof at the top, connecting the inner galleries to the five-story rooms. The Briig Hotel is also a kind of “contemporary gallery”. The original furniture and lighting are the work of renowned world designers, and the stone from northern Italy, posters of the Split painter Boris Bucan, graphics of Julija Knifera, and the installation of Aleksander Srnec are just some of the highlights.

However, the construction of this hotel was not welcomed by the public.

“We are welcomed by conservative groups, even though Split has always had a tradition of modern architecture and can boast many great works, such as Split 3, Poljud Stadium, and many other works. This is a great incentive for us because the award is a great indicator that modern architecture in Split is not to be feared,” Rako pointed out. Split, he reveals, has always been an inspiring city for architecture.

“Despite all the difficulties, Split is a world fact in the field of architecture. In every period of its history, it had authentic architecture, with which it responded to world trends and always had something to say. It is interesting to note that Juraj Dalmatinac first worked on the Papalic Palace and the small Gothic palaces in Split, and only later became widely known for the Sibenik Cathedral. Our city has a good position on the world architectural map, and now we can say that contemporary architecture is one specificity, regardless of the opposition,” he added.

Resistance to modern architecture was present in the 1960s. The Marjan Hotel, one of the most important hotels from the ’60s in this part of Europe, is one of the ideal examples, as well as the Segvic house by the Peristyle.

“These are projects that were a step back in their time, but also experienced terrible resistance. This small hotel is a miniature in comparison, but it is also an indicator that as much as Split is vital in architecture, it is also vital in resistance to everything new,” the architect believes.

We like to say that we call for the right to be different, to look and behave differently, but we forget that houses have the same right, as metaphors for ourselves.

“The house must be a reflection of its time, not some false romantic vision of the past. If we do imitations and copy history with architecture, we are actually lying to ourselves and those to whom we leave those houses in the future,” the architect concluded.

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