Q&A with Tina Gregoric

WAN recently caught up with Tina Gregoric, Co-founder of dekleva gregoric architects. Tina and her partner Aljoša Dekleva, set up the architectural practice back in 2003 and have since been recognised within the WAN AWARDS with their winning 2015 House of the Year entry Compact Karst house. 


Tell us a little bit about the ethos of dekleva gregoric architects

Our architectural practice attempts to pursue the concept of ‘research by design’ and ‘design by research’ through diverse projects, through different scales and programs as well as diverse climates and localities. Understanding of the specific constrains and conditions of the context become the ultimate generative tool that aims to challenge the obvious. We utilize a systematic design approach to establish an intense structuring of space and to challenge the use of materials by exposing their primary natures. The user experience of architecture and participation continue to constitute our practice’s central objective. Topics like new collectivity, sharing, participation and collaboration frame a social position to architecture that aims to stimulate new interaction with or between users, encourage user participation in the design process and customization according to users’ needs.

Redefinition of traditional stone, Compact Karst House led to the concept of proto-house as compact, mono material, pitched roof volume for contemporary countryside living in this region. How did you become involved with this project and have there been any further houses replicated on the back of this project?

We have a long-lasting and intense relationship with the region of Karst since Aljosa grew up there. Deep understanding its cultural and natural conditions was crucial for redefining its traditions. Compact Karst house is actually a prototype for a larger family residence named 4for1 that we have planned previously adjacent to the site. The prototype is a super compact alternative of a countryside living for family of 3, testing all material explorations that were initially designed for a structured, four volume home, where tradition is challenged and multiplied.

If further houses were replicated, can you tell us about what you took from the proto-house, and were there any changes added or lessons learnt through its design process?

The specific concrete structured pitched roof relates strongly to the context and responses to the disappearing tradition of stone clad steep roofs. Perspective of stony mono-materiality was explored and researched in the traditional reference building culture of the region and was further redefined with a contemporary approach. We developed a special concrete roof technology that we would further apply in several other projects in the region in order to readdress ‘stone’ mono-materiality. We are addressing the topic of mono-materiality in alternative rural environment in our recently completed chimney house. We learnt that specific roof as an element of a family home provides point of identity for its users – outdoor and indoor. Both of these topics we pushed forward in our Xh system house – an open source project, which will become a creative commons project this autumn.

What were some of the design inspirations behind Compact Karst House?

Rare and extreme traditional stone houses of the region in Slovenia and Italy were essential references more than just inspirations.

Kristian Hyde, Co-Founder of Hyde + Hyde Architects, said when viewing your project “It’s feels like the architect has a great control of his craft. There’s such an honesty of materials”.  How does planning and working with these materials differ from other materials you have used on previous projects?

We are very pleased to hear such a comment from the distinguished colleague. We attempt first to understand properties of each material and then to expose them or challenge in their most explicit ways. Therefore we work intensively on-site with craftsmen and wherever possible with our own hands. Stone-walls and stone-façades has a long tradition in the area, but ultimately we sought to promote the low budget alternative of the stone façade with providing a special technique of casting the residue stones from the excavation process for the foundation of the house.

Can you tell us briefly about the purpose of the ‘windowless culture’ of the local area?

There is a simple reason to define a north east part of the house windowless due to local strong gusty wind named Burja in Slovenian or Bora in Italian, that with its force defines not only the cultural but also the natural landscape of the region. 

Having worked on a number of houses within your firm, have you got a particular favourite and why?

Each home is a unique response to diverse conditions, contexts and aspirations of the user. We design all houses in an intense collaboration with the client. For us each of them is our favourite with its own story. Our recently published book HOME BY DEKLEVA GREGORIC ARCHITECTS explores this diversity and offers systematic comparison among 4 completed homes, 4 ongoing projects and concluding project [Home at Arsenale] for La Biennale di Venezia. The individual houses, objects of experiment, appear as shelters operating as interfaces between nature and humans.

What is ahead for dekleva gregoric arhitekti?

Currently, we are still very engaged in [Home at Arsenale] a curated library addressing the notions of home and dwelling that we curated and designed for Biennale Architettura 2016 until the end of November in Venice. [Home at Arsenale] responds to Biennale curator Alejandro Aravena’s title Reporting from the Front by addressing the topics of home and dwelling as current critical social and environmental issues. We conceived a 1:1 spatial structure, an abstract home performing as a curated library that operates as a platform for exploring the concepts of home and dwelling during the and beyond.

Further, we are in a process of building permission for another special house in the outskirts of Trieste with a splendid view toward Adriatic Sea and in terms of public structures we are just finalising the first University Building of a Campus in Izola, Slovenia.

If you are interested in entering this year's House of the Year Award, please click here for more information. Deadline for entries is 31 August 2016.

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