National Centre in Trieste was a multi-purpose building, which was built in the years from 1901 to 1904 by the architect Max Fabiani. The National Centre was to be the economical, political, cultural and sports focus of the Slovenian community in Trieste. It is a complex multifunctional building which houses a theatre, a gym, a restaurant, a café, a 69-rooms hotel as well as apartments and office facilities for a number of Slovenian associations.
Given the complexity of the programme, the challenge was to design a functional and economical building. Fabiani fitted the building with an electricity generator and modern central heating, which were still very rare at the time. The steel construction of the rooflight above the theatre hall presented an exceptional technological challenge. The building occupies half an urban block and is square in plan. Above the ground floor, the theatre hall is enclosed by three wings in a U shape.
Fabiani gave the building a rational internal structure and a monumental envelope. The entrance the base of the building are clad in stone. The upper storeys are clad with fired bricks in two different colours laid in a strict geometric pattern. This gives the facade the appearance of a woven fabric reminiscent of the facade of the Doge’s palace in Venice. Fabiani adjusted the decorative pattern to fit the regular grid of window openings, which, thanks to specially fabricated rounded bricks, seem pushed back in the facade. The ornamentation of the building is limited to this brick pattern, except for the theatre and the main entrance, whose curved windows were designed by Koloman Moser, a significant artist of the Vienna Secession movement.
As a symbol of Slovenian presence in the city center has been a thorn in the Italian nationalists and fascists, who are therefore 13 July 1920, attacked, burned and destroyed.