An Old Cattle Barn in Slovenia Is Saved and Transformed Into a Family Home

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By Michele Koh Morollo / Published by Dwell
A former Alpine cattle barn in Slovenia becomes a lofty family vacation home.

Nestled within the Bohinj Valley—an area in northwestern Slovenia surrounded by the Julian Alps—is a peaceful, 1,507-square-foot retreat with a rustic facade and modern, streamlined interiors. Though it used to be a shelter for cattle and a storage area for hay and farming tools, Slovenian firm OFIS arhitekti transformed it into a simple and minimalist retreat.

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Architects Rok Oman and Spela Videcnik lament the fact that much of Slovene vernacular architecture is being eroded, and many traditional buildings throughout the countryside are often destroyed and replaced with new, generic structures. So, they made a decision to retain the original facade of the old barn, while converting its interiors into bright, loft-style living quarters.

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Before

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After

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Before

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After

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The exterior of the old barn, which is composed of a rugged stone base with a timber-truss framework and wooden walls above it, was kept intact, but the architects built a new internal wooden shell of locally milled spruce to alter and freshen up the interiors.

In the original building, the ground level, which was used as a stock shed, was connected to the upper wooden-walled section above it via a wooden ramp. OFIS preserved this existing ramp and turned it into the main entrance of the new home.

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Next to the main entrance is an old outdoor storage area, which the architects converted into a sheltered porch that looks out to spectacular Alpine views.

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All the wooden cladding and concrete roof slates on the barn’s facade were kept and restored. 

The only exterior alterations included the addition of an opening for the front porch, and the introduction of circular perforations on the wooden sections behind the internal windows that allow sunlight to stream into the interiors.

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The main living area consists of an open-plan dining and living lounge that flows into a doorless bedroom on a raised platform at the far end of the space.

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A new wooden "shelf" was built to hold a narrow mezzanine floor beneath the sloping roof, where a guest bedroom is located. 

The cross beams on the wooden structure serve as demarcators for the various internal sections: living space, dining area, and raised bedroom. The kitchen, bathrooms, wardrobes, a sauna, and a fireplace are located underneath the mezzanine.

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Project Credits:

Architecture and interior design: OFIS arhitekti

Builder/general contractor: Permiz

Structural engineer: Projecta

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