Mountain lodgings – Studio Zec – Bosnia Herzegovina

Interpolating nature with neo-vernacular expression in Trebević – Elša Turkušić (BA) – Photography: Damir Dautbegovic

One may well say that the general revival of the once much-beloved mountain resort of Sarajevans was initiated with the construction of the Pino Nature Hotel in the very heart of a pine forest on the slopes of Trebević. The reason Trebević is so attractive lies in the fact that, apart from its location in the immediate vicinity of Sarajevo – following a straight line, the hotel is only 3.5 km distant from the city – it has the spectacular view and air that this gentle forest setting provides.

The hotel was built on the spot of a former climbers’ lodge called Prvi šumar, demolished during the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. Unfortunately, the remaining catering and recreational and Olympic structures suffered the same fate, like the impressive bobsleigh run, the Vidikovac restaurant (called ‘a living room above Sarajevo’), and a funicular that people used as a means of transport from the very centre of the historic part of Sarajevo.

The renovation of these interesting and important attractions is still uncertain, regardless of the fact that designs for their revitalization exist. Lack of funds is the basic problem, therefore one might not be surprised that the (road) infrastructure that was built and modernized during the Winter Olympics of 1984 is only sporadically repaired and rarely maintained. However, a more specific problem is the lack of a sufficiently clear strategy and initiative from various levels of local and government administration, while investments mainly come from private entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, this kind of social development and current conditions led to an uncontrolled urbanization and ‘concreting’ of the nearby Olympic centres on Bjelašnica and Jahorina mountains, due to insufficiently robust town planning institutions. Trebević might avoid such destiny, thanks to being declared a protected landscape of the Sarajevo Canton in 2014.

Architect Amir Vuk Zec retained a sense of proportion with this recent work, the Pino Nature Hotel, when it comes to the interpolation of the artificial within the natural setting. Through an intensive cooperation with a local investor, the renewed architectural structure resisted megalomaniac volumes, adjusting itself to the capacity of the landscape and offering at the same time a quality stay.

The architectural concept begins with the metaphor of the archetypal ‘habitat’, a collection of shepherds’ huts like in a Dinaric settlement. The dynamic architectural form is characterized by an irregular rhythm of pointed dormers in various dimensions that emerge from the main prismatic body. Repetition, addition, and adaptability of one basic element in various ways simulates a code for the shaping language of the vernacular settlement. An integrated imagery of architecture was created. Juhani Pallasmaa ascribes this to the achievements which evoke awareness about the past, while not referring to a particular historic period or precedent.

Inclining the walls of the main body and installing dormers along each of its four facades created a very interesting and poetic atmosphere within the interior. Using wood and béton brut with traces of a wood formwork recalls a cave or shelter ambience. The tectonic language of architecture enriched with material tactility logically ensued from the very manner of constructing and joining spatial elements. A rich inner disposition was achieved in the way that each room has a different appearance and offers a different atmosphere. Hovering triangular roof consoles create specific, modest niches rich in light, where one can enjoy time ‘neither on earth nor in heaven’, meditate, and relax…

The materialization of the facades follows the logic of coordinating architectural language with the existing ambience through the dominance of local stone and wood. The hotel’s composition is comprised of a three-storey cube lined with shingle, ending in a roof terrace, and a six-storey tower lined with wood laths. The guest capacity consists of twenty rooms and two suites spaced across the floors. The ground floor consists of an entrance lobby, restaurant, cafeteria, and fireplace hall with a gallery, while the basement section holds a conference hall and spa centre.

By selecting a neo-vernacular expression, the architect chose not to follow current tendencies of global architectural regionalism in a new-fangled manner. On the contrary, he tried (and managed) to stress and preserve the site’s qualities through coexistence of the existent and the new, enabling one to experience a perception of the created space and an impression of authentic ambience simultaneously.