Max Fabiani was a cosmopolitan trilingual Italian-Austrian-Slovenian architect with Italian and Tyrolean ancestry. He was born in the village Kobdilj near Stanjel. He introduced the Vienna Secession style of architecture (a type of Art Nouveau) in Slovenia with Ciril Metod Koch. Fabiani grew up in a cosmopolitan trilingual environment: besides Italian, the language of his family, and Slovene, the language of his social environment, he learned German at a very young age.
Otto Wagner Years
In Vienna he attended architecture courses at the Vienna University of Technology. After earning his diploma in 1889, a scholarship enabled him to travel for three years (1892-1894) to Asia Minor and through most of Europe. Upon returning to Vienna, he joined the studio of Otto Wagner on Wagner's personal invitation, and stayed there until the end of the century. During this period he did not only concentrate his interests on design, but also cultivated his vocation as town planner and passionately devoted himself to teaching.
Fabiani's first large-scale architectural project was the urban plan for the capital Ljubljana, which was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1895. Fabiani won a competition against the historicist architect Camillo Sitte, and was chosen by the Ljubljana Town Council as the main urban planner. One of the reasons for this choice was Fabiani was considered by the Slovene Liberal Nationalists as a Slovene. With the personal sponsorship of the Liberal nationalist mayor of Ljubljana Ivan Hribar, Fabiani designed several important buildings in the Carniolan capital, including the Mladika palace, which is now the seat of the Slovenian Foreign Ministry. His work in Ljubljana helped him to become well known in the Slovenia, convincing Slovene nationalists in the Austrian Littoral to entrust him with the design for the National Halls in Gorizia (1903) and in Trieste (1904). Fabiani also created the urban plan for Bielsko in Poland. In 1902, these two urban plans won him the first honorary masters degree in the field of urban planning by the University of Vienna in Austria-Hungary.
In 1917, he was named professor at the University of Vienna, and in 1919 one of his pupils, Ivan Vurnik, offered him a teaching position at the newly established University of Ljubljana, Fabiani however refused the offer, quit the teaching position in Vienna, and decided to settle in Gorizia, which had been annexed to the Kingdom of Italy, thus becoming an Italian citizen. During the 1920s, he coordinated a large scale reconstruction of historical monuments in the areas in the Julian March that had been devastated by the Battles of the Isonzo during World War I. In late 1935, he accepted the nomination for mayor (podesta) of his native Stanjel by the Fascist regime, for the National Fascist Party. He remained mayor during World War II, using his knowledge of German language and his cultural acquaintances to convince the German troops to spare the village from destruction. In 1944, Fabiani relocated back to Gorizia where he lived until his death.
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