The Legacy of the Oblak-Dobovišek-Konte family

marketing project
Basic Info

  • Project Executive on ZRC

    Barbara Vodopivec, PhD , UIFS ZRC SAZU
  • Original Title

    Dediščina rodbine Oblak-Dobovišek-Konte

  • Collaborators

    Dr. Irena Svetek, writer,
  • Code


  • Duration

    since October 15, 2021 to October 14, 2023
  • Financial Source

    The project is funded by Mr Martin Konte, Konteus investicije LLC, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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The buildings of the National and University Library, the Modern Gallery, and the Bežigrad Grammar School in Ljubljana, as well as the hotel Jugoslovanski kralj in Rogaška Slatina, do not only share the fact that they were designed by famous architects (Jože Plečnik, Edvard Ravnikar, Emil Navinšek, and Vinko Glanz). They also have in common that the static calculations for them were prepared and reviewed by the civil engineer Sonja Lapajne Oblak (1906–1995). In 1932, she graduated in civil engineering from what was, at the time, the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Ljubljana and thus became the first female graduate in civil engineering and urban planning in Slovenia. Only three years later, her sister-in-law Nedeljka Oblak, married name Dobovišek (1909–1992), became the first graduate in cultural geodetic engineering at the same faculty, while her daughter-in-law Breda Dobovišek (1941) is considered a pioneer of landscape architecture in Slovenia, who has become well-known both at home and abroad, especially for her exterior design of residential neighbourhoods. At the France Stele Institute of Art History of the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, we have learned more about these exceptional women under the auspices of the European project MoMoWo – Women’s creativity since the Modern Movement ( They came from different environments, but all had an intellectually rich family background, which can be traced back to the lawyer and judge Avguštin Oblak (1867–1935), the professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Civil and Geodetic Engineering of the University of Ljubljana Dr Borut Dobovišek (1937), and the naval officer, seaplane pilot and professor Ivan Konte (1910–2008), who was also the pioneer of English grammar in Slovenia. A part of the Oblak family lived in Logatec. We can assume that Plečnik’s pupil, the architect Ciril Oblak, who has left a noticeable mark on Logatec with his work, and Oblak’s cement product factory, which also produced artistically designed objects, are associated with this family, which is the subject of the project at hand, although further research has yet to prove a direct link (for further information, see Umetnostna topografija Slovenije. Upravna enota Logatec, 2014). The project will undoubtedly reveal many more members of the extended family whose work and legacy have gone beyond the individual households. The outstanding individuals descended from the Oblak-Dobovišek-Konte clan point to the significant social potential of the families that lived in the territory of the former Monarchy and the common state of Yugoslavia at the end of the 19th and in the 20th century. Their fates were closely associated with major historical turning points, including the two world wars, the disintegration of multinational states, the Yugoslav War, economic fluctuations and migrations due to various (also intimate) reasons, and repressive state mechanisms such as the Nazi labour camps and the Goli otok camp. Their lives were also decisively influenced by the social processes associated with the rise and development of the bourgeoisie, industrialisation, increased mobility (railway), the development of tourism and recreation, and new trends in art and literature that promoted a modern lifestyle.

This basic inter- and transdisciplinary research project, funded by the direct descendant of these families Martin Konte, aims to shed light on the life and work of the Oblak-Dobovišek-Konte family members, based on the following questions: How did a particular family cope with the challenges of each era, place, and the circumstances in which it lived? How did the tumultuous political, social, and cultural changes in the late 19th and 20th centuries – especially the traumatic experiences such as wars and repression of state authorities – affect the lives of certain families and individuals? What stories, examples, traditions, and lessons have been passed on to their descendants through time and space? What is, therefore, the legacy of the Oblak-Dobovišek-Konte family today?

The research work in the framework of the project will combine the methods of historiography, art history, and sociology of culture. It will be based strongly on the biographical narrative interview method and field visits to key locations. The collected information about the fates of individuals will be continuously placed in the contemporaneous contexts of the broader social, political, and cultural developments, especially in the territory of the former Monarchy and the Balkans, as well as elsewhere in Central Europe. The results will represent the foundations for the formation of the comprehensive history of the Oblak-Dobovišek-Konte family from the end of the 19th century to the present day. They will also serve as a starting point for a more detailed historical interpretation of the pivotal events of the late 19th and 20th centuries from the perspective of “history from below”. By combining the micro perspective of the lives of the individual families and the macro perspective of the broader historical, social, and cultural developments, the research results will contribute to a vivid and multifaceted enrichment of the understanding of the cultural and social history of the past century and a half.

The expected project results include a scientific research study, a literary narrative about the fate of the family, as well as documentary archival, pictorial, audio, and video materials, clearly structured and stored digitally.



Kick-off meeting: 14 Oktober 2021, Small Hall ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana

Internal workshop: 15 November 2022, Geographical Museum ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana

Research areas