The Space of Emptiness

architects ATELIERarhitekti
project Renovation of the Church of Saint Mary, Maribor, Slovenia
written by Uroš Lobnik


A decision was made already in the last century that the south-western corner of Maribor’s medieval Lent should become the centre of Styrian cultural infrastructure, nevertheless, more than half a century passed in waiting for the realization. A public national architectural competition for transformation of the Minorite monastery complex into the Puppet Theatre initiated a lengthy reconstruction process of the south-western section of Lent. This complex, together with the Church of Saint Mary, medieval walls, and Sodni Stolp tower, represents a distinctive feature of the western zone in the historical city nucleus. ¶ The former Minorite monastery with the Church of Saint Mary in Lent is, along with the cathedral, the oldest architectural monument and at the same time it is Maribor’s best example of developing architecture on historical layers. From the 13th century on there were numerous constructional interventions, but the Baroque period in the 18th century (newest research listed the complex among the most significant architectural heritage of the 18th century in Slovenia) and contemporary restorations have left a distinctive mark. The monastery complex was being transformed into the Puppet Theatre after the project by atelierarhitekti from 2008 to 2011 and last year’s intervention (2015) resulted in renovation of the Church of Saint Mary into a multipurpose space intended for cultural events.