The Ortenia project in the small picturesque village of Podčetrtek in northeast Slovenia is situated on a hill, separated from the village and with a beautiful view of it and the surrounding nature. The underlying design concept was intended to incorporate sensitivity and respect for the site and the natural environment without overpowering it. We designed six holiday apartment units for guests who want to experience nature and a comfortable and healthy environment. Our challenge was to create a structure that would develop an interactive relationship with nature, enhancing the existing natural environment. We started from that plan and developed the skin of the building based on the inside, rather than beginning the process on the outside.
Consequently, the structure was very discreetly positioned on sloping terrain. By partly submerging the building in the ground, we were able to achieve optimal connections between the interior and exterior in both grounds of the building. We divided the building volume into three smaller structures in order to achieve the subtlest effect in the existing landscape, making the individual volumes appear smaller.
The building materials were also selected with care, relating to the initial concept of emphasizing the natural environment. We felt that building with wood was the only correct decision because it gives the ambience and climate we wanted the guests to experience. The basement is made of concrete because it is partly submerged in the terrain. The construction is a load-bearing timber-frame structure. The façade and roof are also entirely covered in wood — the whole exterior becomes a single uniform wooden skin.
The interior design is created with the same concept — walls are finished with clay plaster, which creates another dimension of the harmonious relationship with nature. The wooden furniture is not a separated element, but an integral part of the whole and the holistic experience.
The garden design is an equally important part of the Ortenia complex. We created a wild garden based on the existing orchard and hydrangea hedge. The building will be finished when the plants are fully grown and combine with the building to create a breathing habitat. Our architecture will be at its best when it becomes part of nature.