Relocation – how it started

Until 1995, a blind man lived in a villa in Škofja Loka with his housekeeper. After his death, the house was inherited by his brother living in Štajerska. The brother wanted to find a buyer for the house and its large plot of land who would renovate and maintain it, rather than tear it down. The house was bought by a family of six, who did indeed renovate it. For extra space, they also built a contemporary extension to it, a one-story wooden structure with 60 square meters of floor space. Extension was designed by daughter Nina, who is an architect. The family lived in the house for eight years, then the children grew up and left home, so the house went back on the market.

The new owner intended to pull down the completely renovated old house and the extension, and build a new house on the site. This did not happen, and the house stood closed and untouched for many years. After a time the new owner gave the house to his brother. He too plans to demolish the old house and build a new one in its place. At present (2009) he is waiting for the building permit.

When I learned that the owner intended to pull the house down, the thought crossed my mind that he might agree to let me have the wooden extension. I saw value, both material and symbolic, in the virtually new structure. Instead of letting it be destroyed, chopped apart, and discarded, I could preserve it and put the space to some other use. The extension is conceived as a modular unit that can be taken apart and reassembled at will along a one-meter grid. At not too great expense the wooden extension could be transported to a new location, reassembled, and given new purpose. This undertaking would take up to 400 man-hours, which means that it could be carried out in two to three weeks with a team of experienced carpenters. I estimated the cost of disassembling and reassembling the extension with all the necessary new materials at approximately 8500 euros, for a space of 60 square meters. The main idea was reuse – reusing a practically new construction designated for demolition. The owner of the house agreed to let me take the extension away. Hence the name of the project: Relocation.

Polonca Lovšin, Škofja Loka, 2009

As Obrat association has no permanent space we were happy to use the wooden extension for few years as a residence, work, and project space, where we would develop, support, and present artistic and architectural research projects focusing on urban space and different phenomena characterizing it. We searched for a new location in Ljubljana, looking at the same time into possibilities for erecting the wooden extension structure legally without a building permit. The process of obtaining a building permit in Slovenia is extremely complicated, time-consuming, and expensive, and as such in stark contrast with the idea of temporary architecture. One possible solution turned out to be locations that already had building permits whose projects were dormant. In the spring of 2009, however, we were forced to abandon the idea of relocating the structure due to a lack of financial resources, instead we passed on the wooden extension to another person, for another location and use.

Urška Jurman, Ljubljana, 2009