On the disturbing aesthetics of the architect Štefan Svetko

Jarmila Bencová


In the reflections, texts and committed lectures as well as in the widely commented work of Štefan Svetko (1926 – 2009) one can notice impatience and disturbance by the unfair social system, which influences and deforms personal and institutional professional processes. The disturbed character of the architect is also obvious in his unmistakeable creative hand which lacks delicate elements, fine lines or subtle volumes in architecture as well in his drawing. Especially during his top architectural and urban design period of the 1960s and 70s, the constant search for optimal schemes and forced compromises between a brief and his creativity is still very obvious; the dilemma is reflected in the schemes of volumes and masses of his architectures and an effort for complexity, which is actually unachievable.

On one hand, as an architectural office leader and a renowned architect and on the other hand his role of an author with distinctive and critical harsh perception of the world, he searches architectural and urban forms responsibly but at the same time studiously considers their technical and functional running, their performance while also bearing in mind their extraordinary aesthetic expression. This approach is often concentrated in expressive figurative forms and large scales of volumes or spaces. Svetko’s aesthetics opinion corresponds to the one of Le Corbusier, and in Slovakia it is close to Gahura’s architectural aesthetics. In tune with Svetko’s reasoning, he says: “– architecture strives for aesthetic form which could correspond with new construction forms; it searches for new arrangements, proportions and rhythm. It deals with the issues of implementation of those criteria into constructions of architectural works and enriching them. While fully respecting function and construction we form the mass so that it dynamically disturbs where it is necessary in the aesthetic sense.” In his architecture, the disturbance which Svetko achieves by the form and composition of volumes and by his unique expression, and which, it seems, he purposely cultivates. Alike in Svetko’s work, the creative and aesthetic disturbance is an inspiring moving force of many architectural and urban works of the late modernist era in Slovakia.

Keywords: architecture, disturbance, architekt, Štefan Svetko