Skip to Content

Banja House by Gole GmbH

Banja House by Gole GmbH

Designed by: Gole GmbH

How a cold, off the shelf, the ex-Yugoslavian house was turned into a warm retreat with a view of the countryside according to government plans from the 1980s.

The brutalism that cast the self-image of Tito’s Yugoslavia in concrete after the Second World War is world-famous. Less world-famous, but just as influential: the single-family houses that were built according to the Communist Party’s uniform plans across the entire Balkans.

One of them is near Priboj, outside the village of Banja, eng. “spa”, named after a nearby thermal spring. Here, in the hills of southwest Serbia, the view over the valley of the river Lim and the neighboring countries of Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina opens up. Nestled close to nature on a hill, surrounded by pines, Swiss stone pines, and larches, the house is actually an idyll.

Only: It has not been inhabited since it was built in 1992 – because it remained unfinished. Now, 30 years later, the owners have expressed the desire to set up a bright, warm retreat here.

So GOLE GmbH – Architecture Office was able to bring this silent witness to a troubled time after three decades into today. With radical, but carefully dosed interventions, the wish for an expansion for a new future was fulfilled. The canopy cut back to the facade, individual windows moved, the facade was newly insulated. The ground floor has its purpose in its name: here is fired and canned, cooked and crafted.

A piano nobile with a small kitchen and bedrooms was built on the first floor. Here the window frames became picture frames that capture nature. The new floor made of stone slabs stores the heat during the day and releases it again at night.

The top floor grew into a light-flooded loft with a panoramic view of the woods and the valley: raw walls and gentle views. Relatives are accommodated here twice a year during large family get-togethers.

Family pride in the middle of the wood.