Ivana Lukovic architect: Born in 1962 Belgrade, Serbia. Graduated with distinction from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade, Serbia. From 1992 lives and works permanently in Athens, Greece, as a registered architect (member of the Technical Chamber of Greece, TEE). Between 1993 and 1997 collaborated on various projects in Greece and abroad. From 1997 runs her own architectural and interior design practice that is also engaged in experimental competition design. Her involvement in projects is from initial design all the way to completion. Fluent in Greek, English and French. For more, check her website.
What makes you passionate about your daily work?
It is a prospect of experiencing the completed space, that is a part of my mental world, as well as the design process itself, expressed through numerous sketches, drawings, models, writings, renderings etc. The visceral feeling, created during the genesis of the idea, its evolution, and realization, is so powerful and stimulating that it helps you to overcome any difficulty you might encounter throughout the creative journey.
What is the level of importance of traveling the world from an architect’s point of view? What do you enjoy when traveling?
Travel enhances perception. It provides you with a sense of freedom and leaves you the space for daydreaming and collecting your thoughts. Especially, when you travel by plane, you find yourself 10 000 meters above the ground surface in the transitional, in-between space, that allows you to be disconnected from the real world for a while. For me, mental enjoyment of travel starts from the moment I decide about the itinerary and count the days before departure, read relevant books and make flexible plans. The real excitement is when I leave my home and head towards the chosen destination. New images of architectural situations, landscapes, art exhibitions, exploration of local flavors, major events regarding music or theater…They are all subjects of personal interests that become part of my memory, waiting patiently to be the initial point of departure in the future architectural project. During the travel, due to our awareness in high alert, caused by relocation from everyday life, the most profound experiences could happen, like it was my recent visit to Dominican Convent Sainte-Marie de La Tourette, famous piece of architecture, designed by Le Corbusier. This place of silence possesses such an overwhelming spiritual power that I was faced with an unexpectedly strong emotional reaction.
How do you bring back your inspiration, when you feel unmotivated or don’t have a productive day?
I walk along my five meters long desk in an attempt to concentrate powers of imagination. Looking and touching different samples of materials with variety of their textures, browsing through books and architectural magazines, trying different color pencils on tracing paper through unconscious sketches, looking at mementos of my travels, photographs, models, drawings, will always help me to be motivated in search for new ideas for the project(s). Sometimes, to be inspired, my imagination desires sky and horizon line as well as breathing, body movement, sensing the sea breeze, so it takes me to the nearby seashore to live that kind of experience. And after that, I occupy my desk and begin with relevant sketches.
Is there any book, video, project that changed your perception and you would like to recommend it?
Perception is the ability that alters and develops gradually during the life as a long-term process. The influences that help that happen are countless.
- The BOOK that made an enormous impression on me and that I was reading, and re-reading is “Parallax” by Steven Holl. In a poetic way, the author explores the relation of a spirit in architecture and discoveries in science and perception. Beautifully written, in short, essential sentences, it is accompanied by artistic photographs of natural phenomena and architecture, sensual aquarelles and architectural drawings of Holl’s projects. Inspiring! https://www.amazon.com/Parallax-Steven-Holl
- Venice Biennale 2007, saved for me extraordinary VIDEO project (inspired by the poem by the 20th-century Senegalese poet Birago Diop) “Ocean without a Shore” by Bill Viola. The setting was a small church of San Gallo in Venice, whose three stone altars became thresholds for the passage of the dead to and from our world. The audio and visual experience was emotionally so intense that made me think about human mortality in an altered, more poetic way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-V7in9LObI
- ARCHITECTURAL PROJECT that really touched my soul would be the most personal and innovative work by Le Corbusier, built for his parents in 1923, Villa “Le Lac” at Corseaux, Switzerland. What is so special about this bijou Villa, “the laboratory of modern ideas”, is particularity of its site, thin line between water and road, and how grandmaster achieved to imply in such a limited space several of his “five points of a new architecture”: roof garden, the open plan layout, and ribbon window. Almost one century after, it is still full of original furniture and details from everyday life and possesses a luminous aura that speaks about a mutual love and respect between mother and son.
Can you tell me a specific skill that helped you to develop yourself and your career?
Among others, it would be the ability to transfer personal enthusiasm for each new architectural challenge to the clients and collaborators, hence they become inspired to contribute to the project in the best possible manner. The positive aura, created during the process, remains as a part of the treated space and everyday life of the user, long time after the project has been completed.
What are the challenges of working in the construction and design industry?
I would like to mention environmental challenges like over-consumerism of raw materials that construction industry uses, a huge percent of the carbon emissions that are produced during the process, climate change because of overheating, water management etc., are all very well known challenges that these industries are dealing with. The digital technology that is already happening now is supposed to help the overcoming of the mentioned challenges and enables cleaner and more efficient processes.
What is your favorite project in terms of the design process? Can you describe process shortly?
I find this question very broad, hence, I would like to make it more personal and to choose particular reconstruction project in my native city, Belgrade in Serbia, that I am dealing with for a while and hope to have it completed soon.
The space is 110m2, double-level apartment, that occupies part of the 7th and 8th floor of dwelling in central Belgrade that used to belong to my late parents. After their departure, I thought that the best way to deal with the loss was to bring new life to the place according to the lifestyle preferences of my present family. So, for me, this project is kind of creative psycho-therapy and has great sentimental value, but also, from the professional point of view, I am exposed to the new situation where I play both roles of client and architect, as well. My approach was to remove previous site situation and to start from the scratch within the borders and volume belonged to the property. New, leaner, more elegant, metal construction was created, existing concrete slab and beams were removed, eleven new roof openings appeared, enabling contact with the sky and at the same time, natural light flooding public, private and auxiliary spaces. Also, two transitional spaces, atriums, were established to bring nature to the top floor and determine special places the apartment. With enormous enthusiasm, I am experimenting with the materiality of this space by using natural materials like walnut veneer, white oiled plywood and terrazzo and transforming them into bespoke purposeful equipment and coverings.This project is important to me, not only for the architectural qualities that it possesses but also for the social ones, regarding that it is supported by numerous excellent, dedicated professionals in various construction fields, without whose expertise and human qualities it wouldn’t be possible to achieve realization.
What advice would you give to a passionate young designer who is starting now his career?
To include the time as a main factor in the network of possible approaches and decisions during the design process. Concerning that, I would like to refer to the part of the essay “The Trout and the Mountain Stream” written by Alvar Aalto in which he expresses in a metaphorical manner importance of time for the maturing of our ideas. “I would like to add that architecture and its details are connected in a way with biology.They are, perhaps, like large salmon or trout. They are not born mature, they are not even born in the sea or body of water where they will normally live. They are born many hundreds of miles from their proper living environment. Where the rivers are but streams, small, shining bodies of water between mountains…as far from their normal environment as man’s spiritual life and instincts are from his daily work. And as the fish egg’s development to a mature organism requires time, so it also requires time for all that develops and crystallizes in our world of thoughts. Architecture needs this time to an even greater degree than any other creative work.”
What development would you like to see in the architecture field in the next five years?
For me, as a sensitive human being and as an architect, I would like to see, urgently, a transformation of our day to day existence like solving an existential human question, need for Shelter (with capital S) for all. The importance of that matter is beautifully expressed in the following text that could be by Gaston Bachelard” The poetics of space”, without certainty about the author: “The poetic essence of architecture is never stronger than when listening to the beauty of heavy rain underneath of protecting roof or when seeing a welcoming light in the window of one’s house in the dark of a cold winter evening.”