And it’s one of the nation’s most energy-efficient buildings, to boot.
Located on the edge of a larch forest in Kolasin, Montenegro, Chalet Jelovac is a 3,229-square-foot home created by Sonja Radović Jelovac, the principal of Studio Synthesis Architecture & Design. The residence serves as both Sonja’s family retreat, and as a teaching tool for architecture students.
It’s also one of the most energy-efficient buildings in Montenegro—complete with smart heating and cooling systems, three-layer, low-emission glass windows, and a wood-fired central heating system that recirculates hot water through large-capacity heaters in the basement. "Even at extremely low temperatures, the house still maintains an optimal internal temperature without too much energy consumption," Sonja says.
The home’s exterior features a sharp mix of black galvanized sheet metal and timber, and it was designed with a strong sense of place and a sensitivity to the local landscape. "When the window shutters are completely closed, the home simply resembles a haystack," Sonja points out.
The architect worked with local craftspeople on the details of the home. "The facade was made by local craftsmen, and the shutters are all custom made for each individual window," she says. Sonja also planned the interior of the home—and she even designed some of the custom-made furniture pieces herself.
Sonja wanted to use materials that "make you feel as if the home has always been there"—a notion she values because of her strong connection with the land. "I've spent a lot of time in this area since I was a child at my grandparents’ home, so for me, this represents an extended childhood—while for my children and extended family, it is a true family nest," she explains.
Sonja loves sharing Chalet Jelovac with her family—but what brings her equal pleasure is using the home as a teaching tool for students of architecture. She organizes both formal and informal research events and architectural workshops, and she is proud to share that Chalet Jelovac was recently used for Montenegro’s 2019 Architectural Student’s Congress—an annual gathering of students and architecture professors.