In addition to the architectural festival, which took place throughout the country in the middle of April, this year we again organized voting for the OHS AWARD, the first Slovenian award for architectural achievements conferred by the public to authors, owners and contractors. All projects, selected by the expert jury in the annual programme of the festival, were nominated. The mission of the Open House Slovenia festival is to bring good architecture and the importance of a well-built space closer to the general public. The OHS AWARD is therefore not awarded by the professionals, but by the public, expressing their opinion on Slovenian architectural production and establishing a dialogue with it.

Among more than 80 nominated projects, the public awarded the Elementary School of Oskar Kovačič Škofije (authors: Studio-a+v) as best in the category of public buildings. The design of the school tells the students about its duality: about the school as an educational institution where the individual follows common patterns of behaviour and education, which is reflected in the design of the formal arrangement of the classrooms, and about the school as a social space that supports the development of the individual as a subject with their own will, creativity, abilities and imagination, which is reflected in the design through a varied system of common spaces in terms of height and floor plan, with direct connection to the surroundings.

The award in the category of public buildings was also given to Technology park Ptuj (authors: Styria arhitektura d.o.o.), which is located in the renovated building of the former officers’ pavilion of the abandoned barracks in Ptuj. The historic building is located in an archaeologically important area near the Ptuj Castle, which is a cultural monument of national importance. Therefore, excellent cooperation between architects and conservators as well as archaeologists was crucial to the project. Due to additional space requirements, the architects designed a new modern glass extension. It is connected to the building and the garden by a linear spatial element that winds along the terrain, embraces the cypress, rises and breaks, and at the same time takes on the role of a retaining wall, column, lintel, bench and fence. The landscape design with newly planted trees is completed by slabs and benches made of polished concrete, which also form the base of the new extension.

In the category of public buildings Kočevje Kindergarten – Bee Unit (authors: Svet vmes) was awarded as well. The 16-unit, timber kindergarten regenerates brownfield land in the center of Kočevje town and concentrates the previously dispersed kindergarten program in other inadequate facilities in one location. The playrooms are organized around the two atriums, which allow light to pass deep into the building and create two outdoor playrooms inside the volume, around which support spaces are arranged. The kindergarten boasts a diverse outdoor playground and a play terrace. The facility is built entirely from CLT.

In the category of private buildings, the award was given to three exceptional projects. Podmark Villa (authors: OUT d.o.o.) was built by the Italian architect Pietro Venuti after the First World War. He placed it on a hill, in a lush garden with a large concrete pergola. It was intended as a weekend house for his family. The interior of the villa has been roughly reworked over time. Only basic supporting structure, roof and stone-brick facade have been preserved from Venuti’s design. The villa and garden are currently being renovated. The main goal of the architects is to restore the original layout of the rooms and the lively colors as they once were.

The OHS AWARD in the category of private buildings was also awarded to the project Meksika 2.0 – new chapter / new era (author: MA_ST_AR), located in the Meksika building which was designed in 1927 by Vladimir Šubic. The inspiration for the renovation of this apartment was the dialogue between art and architecture. The cleanness of the existing building volume allows for introduction of new design with minimal intervention, while at the same time encourages a lot of imagination, creativity and thinking outside the box. The new floor plan reflects the era in which we live. Colourful accents through the artistic pieces of furniture give the space a special character.

The award in the category of private buildings was also given to Karst House (author: RVA – Robert Veselko), located on the edge of the former stonemasons’ village of Kal, where the village fades into the surrounding fields. The clients wanted to reconstruct and upgrade a small existing house and turn it into a healthy, sustainable family home linked to the local tradition. The structured design allows for dynamic transitions between spaces and optimal views of the surrounding landscape. Stone from the local quarry, wood, lime and, in the interior, clay, give the house a touch of warmth and hospitality.

Congratulations to all the winners!