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The most powerful work of art

Eva Prelovšek Niemelä, researcher and architect; main area of activities: planning, design and development of a new building, which will house the InnoRenew CoE research institute


  • Where were you living in childhood and where do you live now?

In Ljubljana, where I also live now.

  • What have you studied and what were the motives for your decision?

At the end of elementary school, I was already enthusiastic about architecture, so this is what I studied. As a child, I liked drawing and sculpting. I also felt especially strongly about the space around me, and, through it, I evaluated my well-being, emotions, experiences. At that point, I was playing the piano and also experiencing the spatial dimensions of music. During my studies, I stopped playing the piano and discovered a new way of expression in writing, which later became a part of my career in architecture. Moreover, while studying in Vienna, I attended numerous film retrospectives at the Film Museum, where I admired the film space, which is an intense manifestation of emotions and life experiences. So, everywhere I was, I was observing the space and deeply experiencing it as the most powerful work of art that completely overtakes us because it has the ability to surround us from all sides at the same time and with equally intensity. I also found very interesting the technique, especially physics, which is related to different phenomena in nature. I saw a particular challenge in architecture since, for construction, a lot of technical knowledge is required, and, at the same time, you are creating artistic objects and changing people’s lives for the better.

  • How would you describe your work to someone outside your field?

Research that is enabling a useful, healthy and beautiful living space for people.

  • What does your typical working day look like?

I don’t have a typical working day. I enjoy my work because every day I have a different schedule, and I can develop my creativity.

  • What makes you excited about your work?

At InnoRenew CoE, I am the most excited about the diversity of my work, which includes interdisciplinary tasks in architecture (everything from creating the artistic moment to searching for technical solutions and collaboration with different researchers discovering development potential in wood), development of new products and new applications for modified wood and collaboration in scientific research about building with natural materials and their advantages. Finally, I also produce promotional videos about the work of the institute, which brings me back to my youth when I was intensively experiencing the richness of space through film.

  • And what is the biggest challenge at your work?

The biggest challenge is to achieve all the numerous goals that I set for myself.

  • Which scientist or scientific achievement are you fascinated by and why?

Marie Skłodowska Curie because she is the first woman who independently succeeded in the male world of science; she is the first women to get the Nobel Prize. She used her findings for helping injured soldiers in the field of the First World War, and, by doing so, she ruined her health. She lived for science, and she gave her discoveries to all of humanity so that today we can perform an x-ray in every hospital.

  • Tell us about the work of art (books, music, movies, theatre, dance, visual arts) that has a special place in your life.

Very different things: films of Wim Wenders, Federico Fellini, Krzysztof Kieślowski; literature of Milan Kundera, Heinrich Böll, Alain de Botton, Drago Jančar; pictures from Hieronymus Bosch; art of James Turrell, Robert Smithson; music of Claude Debussy, Franz Liszt; and I could be still listing … I prefer not to mention the architects as the list would be too long.

  • What have you read, listened to, or watched lately?

Currently, I am reading the book of Richard Sennett, Die Offene Stadt (The Open City), which is questioning the future of cities, multiculturalism, the relationship between the built environment and life. Most of the movies I watch are cartoons that we watch together with our children. One that remained in my head is the child movie Sreča na vrvici (Happiness on a Leash), in which we admire a carefree childhood in the backyard of a Ljubljana block of flats in the seventies, and we wonder how much everything has changed since then.

  • Which place on the Slovene coast do you like the most?

The place where the new InnoRenew CoE buildings will be constructed in Izola. There is big potential for a creative living space to arise.

  • What makes you enthusiastic?

A work of art that describes a space particularly well, such as Wim Wenders movies or traveling and discovering big cities, where you can experience hundreds of new spatial experiences in one day.

  • Characterize your life’s guidance or an important realization (or epiphany) you have experienced.

We spend 90 percent of our time indoors; therefore, the buildings in which we live are important. Buildings are part of our health, well-being and sickness and this is why we must pay all possible attention to them.

  • What does the charm of wood mean to you?

Although wood is an old material, there are so many new discoveries in it.