100-Year-Old Service Shed in Slovenia Becomes a Miniature Home

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By Sam Eichblatt / Published by Dwell
Dekleva Gregorič Architects turned a former utility building into a stylish, self-sufficient home with a downstairs living space and bathroom linked to two upstairs bedrooms by a sculptural, custom-designed black iron staircase.

A 100-year-old service building located in a protected historical area of Ljubljana, Slovenia was transformed into a modest residence with the help of Dekleva Gregorič Architects. Since it faces north, one of the architects’ biggest challenges was to bring light into the interior while permitting privacy from its closely packed neighbors.

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A wall-sized sliding window opens the downstairs living area up to a intimate atrium-style outdoor area. A narrow deck, which is screened from the surrounding houses, brings an astonishing amount of indirect sunlight into the ground floor.

Built as an urban pied-à-terre for the parents of principle architect, Aljoša Dekleva — co-founder of the studio alongside wife Tina Gregorič  — the house has a total area of around 450-square-feet.

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The exterior of the house reveals the simple and utilitarian assembly of its cement-panel walls and roof.

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In contrast with its immediate neighbor, the house is starkly minimal. The architects chose to maintain the “service” aesthetic of the building, using primed but otherwise raw fiber-cement panels for the façade and roof.

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The architects designed the dining table and added four of Voxia’s space-saving and stackable nxt chairs, which are manufactured from a single piece of compression-molded beech.

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A view from above of the iron staircase, which faces one of the textural béton brut cement walls. Its treads slant at opposing angles, creating their own minimal pattern.

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The local heritage protection laws allow light shafts on the roof, but here the architects chose to turn them up towards the sky, significantly altering the volume of the building and allowing them to open up a new, light-flooded attic space that contains two modest bedrooms.

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The concept of raw materials was carried through on the interior, using plywood and a slab of terrazzo for the kitchen, which features Bulthaup fittings.

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The functions of a residential house have been integrated in extra-small volumes to suit the needs of the couple. The vestibule has extensive storage space, under which there is a small bench for removing one's shoes.

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The central, welded-iron staircase is the house’s most striking contemporary feature. Beyond it, more large sliding doors conceal extra storage and the home entertainment system.