Organised by Obalne galerije – Coastal Galleries and, as of recently, also the DESSA Architecture Centre, the international conference Piran Days of Architecture has been going on annually since 1983. Mostly taking place in in the medieval coastal town of Piran, the conference aims to assess current trends in architecture and present the most progressive and innovative ideas of architectural and spatial production. It consists of lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and a competitive programme of architectural solutions.
The event is mainly held in the beautiful surroundings of the Tartini Theatre, though other venues such as the Monfort Exhibition Space, the Pečarič Gallery and the Meduza Gallery, Koper are also used for parts of the programme. The distinguished Piranesi Award is granted for best achievements in architecture along with two Piranesi Mentions and a Student Piranesi Award.
The Piran Days of Architecture (also abbreviated as PIDA) were initiated and for a long time led by the renowned Slovene architect Vojteh Ravnikar (1943–2010).
In 2008, the younger generation of architects took over this event, since then presided by architect Maja Ivanič. PDA conference is an important meeting of architects, students of architecture and of others who share an interest in architecture. It presents a significant contribution in promoting Slovene architecture in the context of a broader European space, meanwhile offering a platform for effective cooperation of architects, economists and politicians, and the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences.
Recent themes of the seminar have included Between the Rational and the Irrational in Architecture (2003), Architectural Policies (2005), Exhibited Architecture (2006), Architectural Diversity (2008), , and Reanimation of Architecture (2010), Active Architecture (2011), Ethics of Architecture (2013), Invention and Tradition in Architecture (2015).
The conference presents one of the few international expert meetings of architects hosted by Slovenia, with renowned architects from Europe and other parts of the world giving lectures: Friedrich Achleitner, Boris Podrecca, Heinz Tesar, Luigi Semerani, Gino Valle, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Alvaro Siza Viera, Peter Zumthor, Enric Miralles, Sverre Fehn, Kenneth Frampton, David Chipperfield, among others. The lecturers also act as the jury for the Piranesi Award.
For example, lecturers at the 27th international architectural conference were Maruša Zorec – Arrea Architecture, Milton Braga – MVBB, Robert McCarter , Saša Randić – Randić&Turato, Wang Shu – Amateur Architecture Studio, John Wardle – John Wardle Architects, Aaron Tan – RAD, Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell – GRAFTON, and Diébédo Francis Kéré – KERE Architecture.
The PIDA conference is traditionally accompanied by several architectural exhibitions. The most important is the International Architectural Exhibition Piranesi, featuring recent works by Central European architects that compete for the distinguished international Piranesi Award. The national selectors select five projects from each of their countries, these being Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia. The main exhibition usually takes place in the Piran City Gallery or the Monfort Exhibition Space, but occasionally also gets to be shown abroad in places such as FUGA – Budapest Center of Architecture and the University of Liechtenstein.
This display is augmented by an international student exhibitions, co-curated by 8 faculties of architecture from the region – and, additionally, the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London.
Other accompanying exhibitions have, for example, included a photo exhibition of Iwan Baan Brasili Chandigarh: Living with Modernity, an exhibition of a workshop No-man’s water by Hrvoje Njirić, the exhibition Viktor Sulčič, 1895-1973, architect that was designed by the architect and professor Janez Koželj, the display Houses of the World by Hiše Magazine and the Vertigo Bird Vertigo Light display by Vertigo Bird.