Backdrop of a Spectacle

author Oton Gaspari
project Culture Hall, Velenje, Slovenia
written by Metka Dolenec Šoba


On a black and white photo there are a lot of people welcoming President Tito and the president of some other (east European or non-aligned) state: Brezhnev, Khrushchev, Modiba Keit, Ceausescu. Glittering in the sun there is a backdrop – a monumental building. This is a story about it.




The city of Velenje, named after the president of ex-Yugoslavia between 1981 and 1990, is one of the most interesting architectural and sociological phenomena of our urban culture. Apart from Nova Gorica, this is the only Slovenian new town, completely built in the post-WWII era. The city has a completely industrial character, since its construction was financed and carried out by the local lignite mine, during its post - war extensive exploitation. The massive influx of workers, coming from all parts of the country, changed the appearance of the valley. After the war ended, there were only a couple of villages scattered on the area covered by the present day Velenje. In the area of a “city built over night”, in 1948 there were fewer than 1700 inhabitants, while at the beginning of the 1970s there were almost 12,000 people living in the city and twenty years later almost 18,000.