Špela Videčnik, OFIS arhitekti: Inspiring Limitations
Cornell in Rome Spring 2016 Lecture Series
OFIS arhitekti is an architectural practice established in 1996 by Rok Oman (1970) and Špela Videčnik (1971), both graduates from the Ljubljana School of Architecture and London's Architectural Association School of Architecture. Since its creation, the practice has received several prestigious awards and was also invited to the architecture biennials in Venice and Beijing. OFIS works and communicates at an international level, taking part in competitions and architectural lectures all over the world. The practice recently completed construction of a student residence of 185 housing units in Paris after winning the design competition in 2008. A second large project built internationally is the stadium for the FC BATE Borisov football club in Belarus that opened in 2013.
The international team is based in Paris and Ljubljana, and has partner firm agreements in London and Moscow. The beginnings of OFIS's activities date back to the '90s, a particularly exciting yet difficult period for the former Yugoslavian republics that were undergoing intense self re-evaluation and reinvention from scratch, economically and culturally. Architecturally, this led to most of the larger architectural offices scaling down or going bankrupt, creating an empty space for younger groups or individuals to participate in architectural competitions. At that time, OFIS managed to impress the jurors with original thinking and clear concepts. Over the past 10 years they have been working with various national and international clients from the private sector, the commercial sector, and state institutions.
Rules and limitations are carriers for architecture. In their work, OFIS tries to find an issue with the brief, client, material, structural constrains, or the site. In this way limitations become inspiration for difference and create identity — something that makes their work different from the rest. The tactics of not surpassing, confronting, ignoring, or disobeying the rules or limitations will be presented through their recent built work — which varies in scale from a football stadium in Belarus to a small alpine shelter on Skuta Mountain.