Emerging under the same socio-economic conditions as the majority of houses in Bosnia-Herzegovina – on a small budget, with an underdeveloped construction industry, deregulated urban planning conditions and chaotic building permit bureaucracy – the NHRV house tries to subvert the banal reality of contemporary house and nation building in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina. It challenges the status quo of contemporariness, as an extraordinary response to its immediate and wider context by inherently ordinary means.
Contrary to “worldwide” contemporary architecture, the NHRV house does not have an ambition to introduce anything new and extraordinary. However, within the context of present-day Bosnia-Herzegovina it represents an attempt to create an alternative reality.
The composition consisting of two sloped volumes (a house and a garage), together with a third, planned volume (the summer canopy) forms the generic shape of the house, which is disassociated in order to relate to the fragmented morphology of the mountain landscape. The separate volumes, both existing and planned, are placed together so that they form different sequences of outdoor spaces related to the inner programme of the house.Situated on a hill high above Sarajevo, the NHRV house refers to a mountain hut archetype. The compact volume, steep roof and openness towards the slope are major elements that define the spatial character of the house. Like a “katun” (Bosnian mountain hut), the NHRV house is just a simple roof above the ground, primarily covering the central living room area, as well as other units mainly oriented towards the centre. The appearance of the house is determined by two materials – a white frame made of corrugated metal sheets, and wooden infill on the front and back façade – both referring to the predominant south-north orientation along the slope, towards the sun and the view. Wooden window blinds, made out of the same material as the façade, give the house a double character: diffuse, vital openness when the house is inhabited and a monolithic, restrained appearance when it is not being used.
From the smallest elements to the overall structure, the NHRV house is a combination of simple spatial forms and trivial construction details, matching the logic of the underdeveloped construction industry in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Although built within the limits of a relatively restricted budget, the house has a low heat loss during the winter and high insulation in summer, due to the fact that it has an efficient, ventilated shell, a section that allows continuous airflow, a solid structure and optimal orientation towards the sun. The relatively low cost was achieved by a careful balancing of cost priorities, choice of materials and construction methods.