Salt-Pan House

Competition for preserving and refurbishment of an existing listed heritage ruin

The following design proposal is presenting a ‚house within a house’, which is designed inside the perimeter of the existing ruins (without any physical contact between old and new) and cantilever over them in order to protect the rest of the historic building. The proposal is to ‚complete’ the shape of imaginary existing salt-pan house on the site by using structure of CLT cut panels, covered with light semi-transparent polycarbonate material to finish the vision and to extend the life of the installation covering it more under the atmospheric influences.

The idea is for bright, light and airy structure floating over the ruins and reflecting into the water channel and salt pan around itself. The new designed shelter follows completely the forms and the shape of the missing elements of the existing ruin, staying respectfully in distance from it – the remains of the house could be fully seen, explored, touched and felt as they are at the moment. It creates a palimpsest on the site – layers of old and new, traditional and contemporary, natural and human made.

The idea for the ‚forest like’ structure of the installation is coming from the traditional forms of vernacular structures within the country’s mountain regions – so called kozolec. The new shape is to evoke the simple traditional form and beauty of the wooden structure – a distinctive construction type in Slovenia, characteristic wooden structures and buildings for drying and storing hay and sheaves of corn and other goods.

The installation brings such a structure in contemporary manner from the heights into the lowest region of the country and place it in the immediate vicinity to the sea level. In the same time we articulate with the ex-nature of the ruined walls – it was once a building for another type of ‚drying’, if we can say so – the harvest of the sea salt. Inside the contemporary structure, under its roof, the visitors may receive more information regarding the history and the traditions connected with the preserved ruin and site.

The visitors are welcomed to ‚enter’ inside the installation and explore it closely without option the climb or sit on it. We can consider the south-east facade as the main entrance and the opposite one (with bigger remains of stone masonry) as more closed elevation, with wall visually extended with cantilever wooden structure. The structure is divided in two ‚imaginary’ levels – ground level (view point for visitors) and fictional second one (with no access for public), which actually has wooden rhomboid structure as for floor.

This entire structure lets the light penetrating the panels above to touch the ground, creating a warmer microclimate inside the installation and can be explore from below. If we can consider an artificial and very discrete illumination of the installation from inside during the evening hours we can see from distance a small salt-white crystal levitating over the preserved ruins and reflecting in the calm water which surrounding it.