Slovak National Council Building at the north-eastern bastion of Bratislava Castle


Category: Governmental institutions

Interior design: prof. Rastislav Janák, Oľga Janáková, prof. Ivan Petelen
Location: Zámocká Street, Bratislava Castle, Bratislava
Designed and built in years: 1978–1985
Restoration of the 2nd and 3rd floors: 1991, 1994

The work is inscribed on the List of Cultural Heritage Monuments of Slovakia.

Nezameniteľnou súčasťou interiéru zasadacej sály na sú dynamicky komponované lineárne svietidlá

The building at the north-eastern Luginsland bastion, also known as the building at the Nicholas Gate, is part of a large complex of buildings situated in the grounds of Bratislava Castle. After a long genesis of historical development influenced by the course of historical events, the interiors of the building became the home to the Academy of Fine Arts and eventually the seat of the Slovak National Council (today’s National Council of the Slovak Republic) and the Bratislava Castle Administration. The individual functional and operational changes required a complete adaptation of the premises for new purposes linked with the layout and visual rendering of the interiors, which have been preserved in their original design up to the present day. 

The operational layout of the building consists of a central circulation core and meeting and office spaces located in the left and right wings of the building. In the left part of the ground floor there is a conference room, originally also used as a library, in the right part there is a cafeteria and a dining room with adjacent social and technical-service facilities. The offices of the National Council´s employees are located on the second floor and on the top floor there are the offices of the Bratislava Castle administration and a large meeting hall with a lobby space. In 1991, a part of the top floor was adapted for the purposes of the Office of the then Czech-Slovak President Václav Havel and in 1994, partial layout modifications of the second and third floors were carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Office of the National Council of the Slovak Republic. The renovation included increasing the number of offices while maintaining the original design style of the building’s interiors. 

In the design of the ground floor, the architects chose a conservation approach with visual revealing of the existing building structures, and thus the tectonics of the building itself. “The architects sensitively let the characteristic structural features of the vaulted ceiling and clean plaster walls shine through here. They complement them with new stone flooring and predominantly low mobile furniture.” [1] As the authors themselves state, “The aim of the design of this floor was to retain the original architectural expression – the arches, the clean white wall surfaces and the tectonics of the windows, and to support this with a follow-up design process.” [1] Unlike the ground floor, the upper floors are realised in the spirit of the so-called “embedded interior” with full or partial overlaying of the existing building substance. On the second floor, the original concept of the perimeter walls has been preserved, which is visually complemented by newly built partitions and custom-designed interior elements. The top floor is characterised by the extensive use of continuous panelling of the perimeter masonry, sloping concrete walls and ceiling. Although the design concept thus conceived was subject to some controversy at the time of its creation, the realised interiors still attract the attention of visitors mainly thanks to their specific expressive qualities and the high level of craftsmanship of the interior details.

In the context of interior design, in addition to the building interior, furniture and lighting fixtures play an important role, understood as an unmistakable design layer influencing the utilitarian and aesthetic qualities. The interior spaces are consciously modelled artistically through artificial lighting as a unique expressive artefact helping to create visual interpretations of a particular place. Lighting objects and installations thus become unmistakable parts of the interior scene and, at the same time, uniquely designed artworks. Furthermore, the artistic articulation of the spaces is enhanced by atypical, custom-designed furnishings that complete the visual effect of the interiors. Even in view of the then limited choice of type products, the architects had the opportunity to show their imagination, sense of applied craftsmanship and a taste for artistic detail.

Used sources
  1. Vyjadrenie poroty – slovo autorov: Rekonštrukcia a interiér SNR – objekt pri severovýchodnej bašte v areáli Bratislavského hradu [The opinion of the jury – authors’ remarks: Reconstruction and interior of the National Council of the Slovak Republic – an object near the north-eastern bastion in the grounds of Bratislava Castle]. In: Projekt 1/253, 1982, pp. 16–20 
  2. Bratislava Castle. Website: Bratislava. Available at:
  3. A personal interview with prof. Ing. arch. akad. arch. Ivan Petelen, PhD., Faculty of Architecture and Design STU Bratislava, 2023.

Photo documentation

Ivan Petelen
Dušan Kočlík
Jana Vinárčiková