Slovak National Archives


Category: Administrative institutions

Architect: Vladimír Dedeček
Interior design: Jaroslav Nemec
Location: Drotárska cesta 42, Bratislava
Design: 1970–1974
Built in years: 1976–1983

Predpolie konferenčnej sály dotvárajú viaceré výstavné artefakty

The monumentally looking building, designed in the spirit of socialist realism, is a national treasury of the most important documents of Slovak history dating back to the 12th century. Located in the building towering in the designed urban development of Holý Hill (Holý vrch), it houses the premises for archiving documents related to activities of the central bodies of the Slovak Republic and their predecessors, as well as scientific-research, methodological-management, and training workplaces in the field of archival science. 


The building constructed using a monolithic reinforced concrete skeleton consists of four prismatic multi-storey masses surrounded by a two-storey ring mass in the lower part. The building’s interiors and furnishings are subject to specific requirements arising from the archiving process, high load on the ceilings, special regime in the context of the required physical quantities, as well as the morphology of the sloping terrain itself. The defined material-spatial scheme finds its natural reflection in the layout composition presenting principles of progressive functionalism. The basis of the layout is in the central core of the depository, around the perimeter of which there are administrative and specialised workplaces, study rooms, laboratories, and technical facilities. The lower floors also include restoration and conservation workshops, a photo studio, and other type-specific rooms. 


Despite the administrative character of the building, one can find in it artistically identical features and specific attributes of construction and furniture design. These are noticeable especially in the spaces intended for the public, represented mainly by the conference hall and study rooms. At the time of its creation, the technologically advanced conference hall with a capacity of 180 seats boasted a high-quality sound system, modern cinema technology, and the existence of interpretation booths. The artistic dominants of the hall were the sculpturally designed wall panelling and the now-removed shaped suspended ceiling, which, in addition to its artistic role, also contributed to optimising the acoustics. The wooden bench seating and the counter in front are still present, reminding one of the original visual appearances of the hall. From a functional and design standpoint, the interior of the research room attracts attention, featuring a library, study tables, and semi-enclosed study boxes with microfilm reading devices. The atypical table design is reminiscent of the building’s “rings” in its morphology, and the column cladding seems to refer to the tectonics of the building’s basic vertical masses.


“The floors and partly also the walls of the communal areas are finished with grey and white distinctly veined marble, which materially complements the carpet and the ubiquitous wooden slatted panelling, coloured orange due to the passage of time. The expression of the panelling is continued by the massive stair handrails attached to the wall by brass plated brackets. The skirting boards and partly also the film library area are lined with dark grey slate. The expressive style of socialist realism is also reflected in the interior furnishings, such as the custom-made massive wooden and upholstered furniture.” [4] The colourfulness of the facade with the presence of typical Slavic colours in the form of white facade tiles and red glass mosaic finds only a partial response in the interiors. In the publicly accessible parts, the predominant colour scheme is wooden panelling in combination with white wall and floor surfaces. 

Branko Sedlák summarised his initial impressions of the building with the following words: “The building looks massive, stable and yet airy thanks to its segmentation. The archive building attracts the eye from afar with its cube-shaped appearance and red colour. Entering the building, one is surprised by the cramped interior of the foyer with doors opening to all sides. Its form appeals to visitors especially in the communal areas, which give a pleasant warm impression, are bright enough, and they provide beautiful views of the Mountain Park (Horský park) and the Kramáre hill. The upper floors offer a panoramic view of almost the entire city. The research room is pleasant, warm and full of light, and its atmosphere encourages one to study the archival documents for a long time.” [4] Due to its age, there is a visible mark of time in the interiors and on the facade of the building. Multiple premises, especially those that have never been renovated, including administrative sections and laboratories, deserve necessary reconstruction or renovation, not only because of their societal significance.

Used sources
  1. Mitášová, Monika: Vladimír Dedeček: Interpretácie architektonického diela. [Vladimír Dedeček: Interpretation of the architectural work.] The Slovak National Gallery, 2020
  2. Slovenský národný archív. Oznamy a aktuality.  [The Slovak National Archives. Announcements and news.] Website of the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic. Available at:
  3. Vojtková, Viera: Štátny ústredný archív SSR. Nová bratislavská dominanta. [The State Central Archive of the SSR. Bratislava’s new landmark.] In: Projekt 4-5/286-287/85, 1985
  4. Sedlák, Branko: Slovenský národný archív. [The Slovak National Archives.] Seminar paper for the Public Interior course, Faculty of Architecture and Design STU Bratislava, Summer Term 2022–23
Photo documentation

Branko Sedlák