Radical Vernacularity

architects Špela Videčnik Rok Oman
written by Dominique Boudet

 

The northern part of Slovenia on the edge of the Alps, with mountains studded by lakes, reveals a landscape of exceptional harmony. Huddled together in the hollows of the valleys, the villages, gradually built by people with a sense for the topography, material and climate, have preserved their distinctive rural character thanks to the remarkable surrounding vernacular architecture. Bohinj is still one of those places that have been shielded from the violence of modern society. Here, nature – hedges, meadows and streams – as well as the works of men, such as paths and dwellings, are in harmonious relationship, and their free arrangement shapes picturesque, but very suggestive places. That fragile balance is disturbed by makeshift interventions that were done insensitively, such as new structures, farm extensions, or even installation of equipment, which can permanently disfigure those, indeed miraculously preserved, rural scenes. In Bohinj, this threat is even more evident, and it is the abundance of that vernacular architecture that it comes from. Farms, and barns in particular, are no longer used and are in poor condition; sometimes it is only their skeleton that is visible in the middle of a meadow. There is a risk – and there is no tourism region that is spared from it – that they will disappear or, even worse, be replaced by some kind of insignificant weekend cottages.