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Viera Mecková

Viera Mecková

Born September 6 1933, Turčianské Teplice
Lived in Žilina (after 1959)

A Slovak who ranked among the top domestic architects in the masculine world of socialist Stavoprojekt, the centrally managed design organisation. Her main body of work dates to the pre-revolution period of Czechoslovak architecture. In the second half of the 1980s and in the era of newly acquired freedom, her work was focused more on intimate formats of family houses, interior creations, bookbinding and jewellery. During the normalisation period, her cooperation with projects of the VAL artistic group brought her extraordinary foreign acclaim. With the artist Alex Mlynárčik and the architect Ľudovít Kupkovič, she elaborated the concept of visionary (prospective) architecture responding both to the political situation and to questions of emerging ecological strategies.


architecture, artist's book, jewelery

1952

Viera Mecková, née Štarková, studies at the newly established Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering of the University of Technology in Bratislava. Under the guidance of Professor Vladimír Karfík, a prominent figure in Functionalist Baťa architecture, she graduates as one of the first architects and is hired at Stavoprojekt in Žilina.

1959

Against the background of her personal life (marriage to architect Jozef Mecka, birth of their son Tomáš), the architect works her way up to the role of head designer thanks to her success in in-house competitions. At the end of the 1960s, her first major projects are built, including the Cultural Centre in Púchov and the State Bank in Liptovský Mikuláš. International Late Modernism, which these buildings reflect, is relaxing and becoming more playful in designs from the 1970s. The Gánovce Aerological Station and the Cultural Centre in Dolní Kubín heralded a shift to a postmodernist sensitivity in architectural forms and interior details. Specific to the work of the architect is materiality or hapticity, qualities that enrich her buildings despite the force of normalisation. This is particularly evident in the case of the new building for the District Committee of the Slovak Communist Party, which she designs in 1981–1987 after winning the competition as a non-party member. The structure, which was transformed into an office building at the end of one-party rule, brought its author the 1988 Dušan Jurkovič Award.




1968

Akusticon
Akusticon (architecture)
Heliopolis
Heliopolis (architecture)


1972

Thirty years of productive professional life under the anonymising Stavoprojekt brand allowed the architect to work at another highly creative boundary of architecture. Since the early 1970s, she simultaneously works on the visionary architecture projects initiated by Alex Mylnárčik. Influenced by the Parisian intellectual environment, the painter and performance artist adopts the concept of prospective architecture, one which, through futurological designs, illustrates and shifts society's thinking in response to its current development. Together with Mecková and the architect Ľudovít Kupkovič, they establish the VAL Group (Voies et Aspects du Lendemain/Ways and Aspects of Tomorrow), which creates a total of eight designs – visions of monumental architecture – technically detailed despite receiving no compensation and without hope of having them actually built. More than a symbolic structure (in the contemporary concept of utopian or Metabolist architecture), a building or a city becomes a sculpture endowed with layered meaning. It thematises human spatial expansion, urban hypertrophy, urbanisation of the rural landscape, transport, climate, the use of new energies, while also updating the relationship between man and nature. In addition to Pierre Restany, the group's personal theorist, VAL is also followed by Michel Ragon, whose book Où vivrons-nous demain? (Where Will We Live Tomorrow?) had a great impact on architectural thinking in the home environment after its translation into Czech in 1967. A contemporary parallel in the domestic Czechoslovak environment is the work of the SIAL Group or the “architecture” of Josef Jankovič. In the Ragon’s precise system, the work of the VAL Group breaks away from the category of utopian architecture in the traditional socio-historical concept. To date, the most detailed analysis of the vision of the VAL Group and the differentiation of its roots in the matrix of two different Europes – Western and Eastern – comes from Katarzyna Cytlak. “The work of the VAL Group reflects the principle of play and the desire to anticipate a new society, while the studios to the west of the Iron Curtain are more closely related to the concept of utopia in its traditional meaning on the one hand, international situationism on the other.” The context of normalisation in the 1970s paradoxically leads Mecková and her colleagues to closer ties with postmodern architecture.




1981

Budova OV KSS, Žilina (architecture)


1985

Beginning in the mid-1980s, the architect finds a new field of activity in jewellery-making (in collaboration with Ľubor Štarke) and bookbinding (with artistic bookbinder Ľudmila Mlichová). Ten years of collaboration with Mlichová produces a complete set of original books characterising the shift towards postmodern aesthetics.

1991

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the professional reorganization of Slovak architects, Mecková becomes a member of the council of the Association of Architects and the Slovak Chamber of Architects. As an authorised architect, she designs family houses and interiors. In 2003, Viera Mecková receives the prestigious Emil Belluš Award, the first and thus far only woman awarded for lifetime achievement in architecture. Henrieta Moravčíková speaks of her as the most prominent female figure on the Slovak architectural scene of the 20th century.

1995

VAL (group exhibition, Bratislava)
The Sixties in the Slovak Fine Art (group exhibition, Bratislava)

1999

VAL (group exhibition, Venice)
Action – Word – Movement – Space. Experiments in the Art of the Sixties (group exhibition, Prague)

2003





Muzeum umění Olomouc 2011-2016