Striving for versatility
Bratislava, SK

PLURAL was founded in 2009 and is led by Martin Jančok and Michal Janák from their office in Bratislava. They are primarily concerned with form and space. PLURAL is a deeply collaborative practice working between the fields of architecture, exhibition design, as well as speculations on the city.


True to our name

The studio was founded in 2009 when I left zerozero studio where I worked previously as a partner for more than 5 years. In the beginning, it was just me with occasional students and interns hired for a limited time period. I would team up and collaborate frequently with other individuals or groups (Totalstudio, N/A, Gutgut) mainly for competitions. The first projects were mostly small scale commissions and temporary structures. In 2013 Michal joined me for a competition that we won (but unfortunately never realised). Michal eventually stayed and the name PLURAL was finally justified.


A valuable lesson

Perhaps the most interesting story that happened to us, and to a great extent defined us, was our involvement with the transformation of the neologic synagogue (designed by Peter Behrens) into a cultural centre. The whole initiative was an example of civic activism of unprecedented scale in Slovakia. It was partly based on voluntary work, and partly funded by donations and partial grants. Therefore the design and building process was quite unpredictable, it took almost 8 years. We had to design the process first in order to maintain a satisfactory and coherent result. For us it was a precious lesson in control, improvisation and trust.


Dealing with unpredictability

There is indeed a certain kind of culture among architects, rooted in the school days. Our society has become perhaps more obsessed with the work itself than the outcome. And our profession, if you look at the statistics, or any panel at the Venice Biennale, is still disproportionately white male dominated. This is unhealthy and really related to the culture that does not leave any space for personal interests. However, it needs to be about self-management. As we grow older and our office slightly bigger, we realise the need for a more structured workflow. We feel the need to be more disciplined and less intuitive perhaps. The challenge is how to organise our work process which is often unpredictable. 


Working in good company

In terms of spatial organisation the studio layout is defined by three large tables placed parallelly. People and projects circulate around them in a very loose way. There is no visible hierarchy. What is maybe more important is the situation of the office within an old administrative building that has been transformed into a school and later into a creative center. The close proximity of other architectural studios, collaborators, friends and colleagues makes it a perfect environment to work in.


Striving for versatility

We try to maintain as wide a scope of our projects as possible. Currently we work on exhibitions, family houses, public buildings, as well as relatively large scale landscape and public space projects. We work a lot for cultural institutions. The realisation of the New Synagogue has given us an image of architects dealing with architectural heritage and its transformation which on one hand we enjoy and at the same time try to avoid becoming specialised in.


Looking towards the future

We have learned it is very hard to plan something specific in such an unstable environment. We would like to maintain a moderately-sized studio (up to 10 people) and continue to work for cultural institutions and the public sector. We will also concentrate more on our ongoing speculative research/design project examining the contemporary condition of the central-european city called Project Bratislava. At some point we would like to be more involved in teaching, too.

PLURAL photo zuzana kovalova

Photography Zuzana Kovalova

PLURAL photo lucia kovalova

Photography Lucia Kovalova

01 foto dalibor adamus CROP

Photography Dalibor Adamus

katherinethude crop

Photography by Katherine Thude

02 dom v dome fotoDaniela Dostalkova

Photography Daniela Dostalkova

a project powered by Itinerant Office

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