Compact house, big living

by Tania Wannenburg
Compact house big living DEKLEVA GREGORIC ARCHITEKTI

A reinterpretation of a traditional Slovenian house in the Karst region, the Compact Karst House has won the WAN House of the Year 2015 Award.

The Karst region in Slovenia is a limestone plateau where rivers, ponds and lakes disappear and resurface in the porous rock through sinkholes and funnels, creating underground water chambers and caves. The area was once covered with oak trees, which were extensively used by Venetians to build a “city on water”, leaving the ground bare. In this landscape, small, compact, stony and almost windowless houses became the order of the day and still abound.

The Compact Karst House, named WAN House of the Year 2015, reinterprets this traditional template to correspond with the needs of a young family and incorporate modern technological principles. The result is a compact, stony house with a pitched roof, fit for contemporary countryside living.

Concept: House in a house
Designed by Dekleva Gregorič Architects, the house was conceived as a monolithic space divided by two inserted wooden volumes connected through a landing. The ground floor serves as a public or semi-public space with multiple grand landscape views, while the top floor is meant to be very private, with sky views only.

The two inserted wooden volumes contain a kitchen with a dining room or bathroom on the ground floor, and a master bedroom and children’s room on the upper floor. The house-in-a-house concept allows each bedroom to perform as a separate wooden pitched entity, where it literally feels as if one is sleeping in a house on its own and not in a room. The bridge connecting the two “houses” acts as a playroom.

Three large square windows look out on views towards a hilltop church in Italy to the west, a forest to the south and an entrance platform to the east.

History reinterpreted
The design of the house addresses the relationship between traditional and contemporary, with the architects considering all spatial, social, material and historical aspects.

The reinterpretation of the texture, colour, material and steep inclination of a typical stony Karst roof is executed in concrete, with intense technological ingenuity. The material creates an inseparable connection between the facade and the roof, a key allusion to the image of the traditional Karst village homes.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to Dekleva Gregorič Architects and WAN Awards for the information given to write this article.

Project details:
Architects: Dekleva Gregorič Architects
Site area: 330m²
Built area: 82m²
Net area: 92m²
Start date: 2012
Completion date: 2014

•    WAN House of the Year 2015, winner.
•    Architectural Review AR House Award 2015, commended.
•    Best Architects 16 Award, single family homes category winner.
•    Architizer A+ Awards 2015, Residential: Private House (XS <1000 sq ft) category, finalist.
•    European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture: Mies van der Rohe Award 2015, nominated.

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