Ivan Rijavec

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Ivan Rijavec (born 1951) is an architect living and working in Australia.

Early life[edit]

Ivan Rijavec was born in Trnovo, Slovenia in 1951. At age 1 his family moved to the small coastal town of Albany, Western Australia.


Rijavec attributes his earliest architectural influence to the Italian structural engineer and architect Pier Luigi Nervi’s innovative work in concrete. He cites the spatial quality of Palazzo Dello Sport’s dome as having ignited his architectural interests when in 1968 he stumbled on a faded small black and white photograph of it in an engineering volume extolling the virtues of pre-cast concrete.

In 1969 Rijavec enrolled in architecture at Curtin University, Western Australia.[1] Whilst completing the first tier of the course, he won a bursary postponing his degree to undertake a study tour of Europe tracing the development of Western Civilisation through Greece, central and Western Europe. He remained in Europe for six years travelling, studying and working predominantly in London and Umeå, Sweden.

Life in Australia[edit]

In 1977 Rijavec returned to Australia completing his bachelors and master's degrees at RMIT in 1979 and 1992. After a period working at Bates Smart, he was appointed associate director in 1985 and subsequent to his design role on the Coronial Services Centre was headhunted as a design leader at the Victorian Public Works Department. There he worked on a government initiative to raise Victorian design standards in the Justice and Tafe Groups before devoting himself exclusively to his own practice in 1988.

From the late 1980s till present, Rijavec Architects have had a prodigious output, receiving 10 professional awards and numerous other commendations for outstanding architecture.[2] Over the same period Rijavec taught at the RMIT University of Technology Department of Architecture and served on numerous professional advisory panels, competition and design juries. His architecture employs unique curvilinear geometries in the creation of forms and spaces that have been described as sculptural, intensely intimate and poetic. As the scale and breadth of his projects increased, his focus broadened to include Australian urbanism. Rijavec was included in Melbourne Masters Architecture exhibition held in November 2004 TarraWarra Museum of Art | Exhibitions that exhibited the works of some of Melbourne’s most celebrated architects.


In 2003 Rijavec assumed the role of architect-developer on a major inner urban development comprising an urban block in Melbourne’s oldest suburb, Fitzroy. The project, NKYA, (an acronym for Napier, Kerr, Young and Argyle Streets that border the site), comprised a mixed use development including cafes, offices and a predominance of apartments. It was the largest conceived in Fitzroy’s history prompting mass public protests.

The popular press dubbed it "the cheese grater"[3] (alluding to the distinctive conical forms of one of its corner elements). The complex was designed to provide 136 apartments in structures ranging between five and eight stories in height in three separate buildings of different architectural characters. Despite strong opposition by residents action groups and the Yarra City council, the project won approval at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). This was largely as a result of Rijavec establishing the project’s contextual relevance in an unprecedented appraisal of Fitzroy’s urban character that reinterpreted it as Urban Jazz.

Venice Biennale[edit]

"NOW+WHEN Australian Urbanism", inspired by Rijavec’s interest in Australian urbanism was selected as Australia’s 12th Venice Architecture Biennale exhibition for 2010. The exhibition co-directed by photographer John Gollings refocusses the Australian identity from the "outback", to its coastal urban centres where 93% of its population now lives. The exhibition comprises a survey of Australian Urbanism NOW and allegorical speculations on Australia’s Urban future, WHEN, set from 2050 into the distant future. The exhibition has been conceived as a time capsule of Australian Urbanism taken in 2010 that includes speculations on its urban future.[4]


  • 1986 Coronial Services Centre, Victoria, Australia
  • 1987 Whittlesea TAFE College, Victoria, Australia
  • 1989 Lara Shoe Factory, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
  • 1989 Manifold Residence, Brunswick, Victoria, Australia
  • 1991 Municipal Offices Caulfield, Victoria, Australia
  • 1994 Freeland Residence, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
  • 1997 Alessio Residence, Templestowe, Victoria, Australia
  • 1997 Penthouse, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 1998 Chen Residence, Kew, Victoria, Australia


  • 1984 Merricks Music Room RAIA RAIA AWARD
  • 1985 Wurruk Primary School FINALIST RAIA
  • 1986 Warehouse Conversion, Commercial/Residential FINALIST RAIA
  • 1986 RMIT School of Architecture (Contracted at BSM) FINALIST RAIA
  • 1987 Ivan Rijavec Architects Office RAIA AWARD
  • 1988 Coronial Services Centre, (Contracted at BSM) FINALIST RAIA
  • 1989 Price Waterhouse Building, (Contracted, BSM award) RAIA AWARD
  • 1989 Architects Residence FINALIST RAIA
  • 1989 Fine Art Gallery, (David Ellis Fine Art) RAIA AWARD
  • 1989 Fine Art Gallery, (David Ellis Fine Art) FINALIST RAIA (National)
  • 1990 Warehouse Conversion, Commercial/Residential RAIA AWARD
  • 1991 Foards Freeholds, Commercial/studio conversion FINALIST RAIA
  • 1991 Caulfield Town Hall RAIA AWARD
  • 1992 Warehouse Conversion, Commercial/studio FINALIST RAIA
  • 1993 Panorama Gallery & Electronic Projection Cinema RAIA AWARD
  • 1994 Francis Residence RAIA Prize
  • 1994 Fitzroy Swimming Pool, Institutional Category. FINALIST RAIA
  • 1994 Freeland Residence, Interiors Category. FINALIST RAIA
  • 1994 Freeland Residence, Residential Alterations Cat. FINALIST RAIA
  • 1994 Freeland Residence MBAV House of the year RAIA AWARD
  • 1995 Freeland Residence RAIA AWARD
  • 1997 Alessio Residence FINALIST RAIA
  • 1997 357 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. Penthouse FINALIST RAIA
  • 1998 Seppelt Contemporary Art Award, Museum of Contemporary Art NSW Nomination


  • Architects For The New Millennium [sic], Images Publishing Group 2000
  • Australian Interior Design Manual, Tibor Hubay, Allen & Unwin 1989
  • Melbourne Architecture, Watermark Press, Philip Goad 1999
  • New Australian Style, Jon Michell & John Gollings, Thames & Hudson 1999
  • Picturing Architecture, Anne Pedden & Desley Luscombe 1992
  • Pure Form (Works by Ivan Rijavec), Images Publishing Group 2000
  • Australian Architecture Now, Davina Jackson & Chris Johnson, Thames & Hudson 2000


  1. ^ Pure Form, Ivan Rijavec, edited by Stephen Crafti, 2000, The Images Publishing Group.
  2. ^ Rijavec Architects official website
  3. ^ The Age Newspaper
  4. ^ "Creative Directors for 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale announced". www.australiandesignreview.com. 28 September 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 

External links[edit]