Sustainable renovation of residential building heritage

In January, we completed the one-year project PIRH – Sustainable renovation of the residential building heritage, where we cooperated with Idrija 2020 and kombinat architects. The project addressed the problem of abandoning the renovation of the residential building heritage, which has numerous negative environmental and spatial consequences for the Slovene municipalities. For this project, we chose the Idrija’s mining house, which is a type of architectural construction, characteristic of Idrija. Most of these houses were built in the “century of the mining house” between 1776 and 1876. The mining house is the one that formed the recognizable image and identity of the city of Idrija.

In 2018, 102 mining houses were listed as part of the project in Idrija. Due to their numerous processing, only 18 have retained more than five typical features. Only 8 houses with more than five characteristics are still populated. Half of the 102 houses are empty today. At a time when there is a significant shortage of housing in Idrija and its surroundings, we estimated that reconstruction and settlement would have a positive impact both on the revitalization of the city center and on the strengthening of the identity and architectural and urbanistic image of the city that is listed on the UNESCO list. The purpose of the project was, therefore, to encourage the renovation and revitalization of housing, protected as cultural heritage, as opportunities for the sustainable development of settlements. The renovation was designed with the idea of using and installing natural materials, integrating the knowledge of local masters and respecting all the features of the building heritage. That is why the project team was comprised of a wide range of experts in the field of building renovation (conservationists, architects, contractors) and spatial decision-makers, especially at the local level. Experts from the field of building physics, efficient use of energy, smart installations, protection against noise and fire safety were also present.

For the pilot case, we selected the Trnovec house in Grapa, on the junction of Vinko Mohorič Street and Mrakova street. The house that is in the register of cultural heritage, has been empty for the last twenty years alone and was up until recently owned by the municipality. It is in a very bad condition, but not in a hopeless one. We planned the transformation of the house into a two-story building, where the exterior will be preserved in the original image, and the interior will be re-designed according to the contemporary spatial and residential needs.

All the proposals and measures were issued in the form of a catalog.

Results of the project:

  • implementation plan for the sustainable renovation of the Idrija mining house, with all plans and elaborates, works list and investment appraisal
  • an established renewal working group
  • an issued report on the state of housing heritage at the national and local levels
  • a brochure with guidelines for sustainable renewal and a database of materials and contractors
  • the final exhibition of the designed renovation at the Faculty of Architecture and the City Library and reading room Idrija
  • a round table in Idrija, where we presented the project to the municipality and the inhabitants of Idrija


Support: Ekosklad, Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning

Partners: Idrija 2020, kombinat arhitekti

Photo: Maša Živec

Renders: Andrej Blatnik