njiric+ arhitekti > Noble atavism of heroic architecture

In this time when architects—like politicians—tend to shy away from ideas (let alone ideologies or theories), Hrvoje Njiric seems like an oddball. His ‘old school’ commitment to good old architectural thinking grows stronger with each new project. The phrase critical architecture comes to mind, but what could that really mean in 2011?

Njiric is an architect who simply seems to take care. Or at least this care can be read in his projects. Thanks to his confessed idealism and unquestionable passion, Njiric is an ‘architect’s architect’, involved in thinking, researching and responding to issues. Being alert and aware, he absorbs information from all over, feeding off both contemporary and international contexts. He trawls the net, reads, travels, keeps his eyes open. He juggles images and ideas from different sources and media, quoting them and referring to them quite naturally and fluently. In this respect he is a great compiler, as many architects and designers tend to be nowadays. Perhaps because of this, he has never gone quite regional; if anything at times his aesthetics have tended to veer off to be a bit ‘too Dutch-looking’ here, or a bit ‘too Japanese’ there.

But above all else, Njiric’s architecture is one of diagrammatic clarity. His built projects retain the memory of their original sketches, convey their generative histories. And, in spite of everything, they somehow strive to remain loyal to the clarity of thinking behind them, to the very idea. Such an approach requires additional effort and discipline. (Njiric’s choice in this respect should be seen against the background of the Croatian transitional and generally corrupt quasi-capitalist climate of the past 15 years. Considering this context, his approach appears justified and almost logical, creating the semblance of clarity in murky waters).

Lately, however, it is quite exciting to see some new thinking entering his projects, for example in the Law Faculty project in Split. Going hybrid? Letting loose or maturing? At times the almost scientific dryness of his rural mats and diagrams seems to be giving way to some new twists and surprising juxtapositions. True, he is known for his typological hybrids (urban villas + apartment building = rural mat). But cultural chimeras? The Balkans, Mediterranean, Central Europe... The material is at hand. Why not use it?

Dominko Blazevic

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