Pavilion of Slovenia at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia

20. 5.—26. 11. 2023

Pavilion of Slovenia at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia

20. 5.—26. 11. 2023

+/– 1 °C

In Search of Well-Tempered Architecture

Over the past decade, ecology has had a significant impact on many disciplines and has become an integral part of developments within these disciplines. And architecture is no exception. Credit for the purported eco-friendly nature of architecture goes, however, to other engineering-related disciplines, with heat pumps, zero-energy house technology, recovery ventilation systems, and other innovations transforming our homes into high-tech machines intended to help us manage our energy consumption economically and efficiently.

Although ecology, understood by many in architecture as ‘energy efficiency’, is an inescapable contextual component of modernity that defines architecture, it is addressed by architecture rather paradoxically. Instead of critically rearticu-lating its conceptual starting points, architecture tends to address ecological issues exclusively through applied technology hidden inside walls. ‘Energy effi-ciency’ thus appears as an entirely separate and independent component of a building, and as a result ecology in architecture is often perceived as a restrictive villain that manifests itself through strict technical and legislative conditions. In contrast to the use of the bureaucratic term ‘energy efficiency’, we use the word ‘ecology’, understood to represent the numerous  and  complex  relationships between architecture and its environment that go beyond the use of technology. Can we (re)think ecology through architecture? Can ecology serve as something productive for architecture?

To answer this question, we need to look to the past. The vernacular architecture of previous centuries did not know such a demarcation. In the past, ecology generated and was inseparable from architecture itself, which means that buildings were ecological already in their conceptual design. Architecture and ecology were thus one and the same – a simple architectural concept was always based on the energy requirements of its climatic, material, and topographical context. In other words, vernacular architecture has always been maximally ‘energy efficient’ with regard to both the means and conditions at hand.

In collaboration with 50 European architects and younger generation creators, we have sought out examples of vernacular buildings from Europe that – unlike current contemporary practice – address the issue of ecology holistically, as an intrinsic part of architectural design. The energy principles of vernacular buildings were divided into categories such as a room within a room, heat cell, dropped ceiling, or extended perimeter. The examples presented also show that energy-related  inputs  in  vernacular  architecture  did  not  generally  serve  as mono-functional elements but had a social and ritual role in addition to their primary function. By addressing issues of heating and cooling, they generated and organized the ways buildings were inhabited, and established specific relations between architecture, users, and the environment.

This approach moves away from the common, nostalgic perception of vernacular architecture as a relic of (forever lost) historical periods. Instead, vernacular architecture is understood as a living specimen of energy principles that are relevant to the current time and can be used as the basis for a critical reinterpretation of contemporary architectural production and for thinking about a future architecture – an architecture for which it is not enough to be merely ‘energy efficient’; instead, it has to become ecological.



Maša Mertelj, Matic Vrabič, Eva Gusel

Maša Mertelj and Matic Vrabič founded Mertelj Vrabič Arhitekti in 2015. Since its foundation, the office has realized numerous renovations and exhibition design projects, which are regularly published in Slovenian and international magazines. The firm was selected for presentation in the Carnets publication Architecture Is Just a Pretext, which presents 30 young European practices and was part of the New Praxis, New Tools project in Ljubljana, Berlin, and Vienna.

Eva Gusel started working with Mertelj Vrabič Arhitekti in 2019. She is the co-author of the project for the renovation of the Metalka office, for which they received a nomination for the Plečnik Medal. Since 2021 she is a member of the editorial board of Outsider magazine.


Anja Vidic, Jure Grohar

Vidic Grohar Arhitekti was founded in Ljubljana in 2016 by Anja Vidic and Jure Grohar. In their projects, they do not follow a pre-set architectural agenda, but freely develop new specific architectural, design, and curatorial solutions through the rearticulation of given situations. Their work has been presented in several exhibitions and publications, most recently as part of the international project Objects of Fascination in Brussels (MAD Brussels) and Paris (Pavillon Arsenal), and the New Praxes, New Tools event in Ljubljana (ŠKUC Gallery), Berlin (AEDES Metrolab), and Vienna (TU Wien).



Commissioner: Maja Vardjan

Curators: Jure Grohar, Eva Gusel, Maša Mertelj, Anja Vidic, Matic Vrabič

Assistant to the Commissioner: Nikola Pongrac

Pavilion Design: Mertelj Vrabič Arhitekti, Vidic Grohar Arhitekti

Graphic Design: Žiga Testen

Photography: Klemen Ilovar

Strategic Consultant: Anja Zorko



Anna Bach, Eugeni Bach (Anna & Eugeni Bach)

Marcello Galiotto, Alessandra Rampazzo (AMAA)

Urban Petranovič, Davor Počivašek (Arhitekti Počivašek Petranovič)

Niklas Fanelsa (Atelier Fanelsa)

Alicja Bielawska, Simone De Iacobis, Aleksandra Kędziorek, Małgorzata Kuciewicz

Laura Bonell, Daniel López-Dòriga (Bonell+Dòriga)

Radim Louda, Paul Mouchet (CENTRAL ofaau)

Velika Ivkovska

Artem Kitaev (KOSMOS)

Aidas Krutejavas (KSFA Krutejavas Studio For Architecture)

Laura Linsi, Roland Reemaa (LLRRLLRR)

Benjamin Lafore, Sébastien Martinez-Barat (MBL architectes)

Ana Victoria Munteanu, Daniel Tudor Munteanu

Daniel Norell, Einar Rodhe (Norell / Rodhe)

Søren Pihlmann (Pihlmann architects)

Ambra Fabi, Giovanni Piovene (Piovenefabi)

Matteo Ghidoni (Salottobuono)

Gordon Selbach

Pablo Canga, Ana Herreros (SOLAR)

Elena Schütz, Julian Schubert, Leonard Streich (Something Fantastic)

Jakob Sellaoui (Studio Jakob Sellaoui)

Hana Mohar, Frane Stančić (Studio Ploca)

Susanne Brorson (Studio Susanne Brorson)

Benjamin Gallegos Gabilondo, Marco Provinciali (Supervoid)

Ana Kreč (Svet vmes)

Janja Šušnjar

Mireia Luzárraga, Alejandro Muiño (TAKK)

Léone Drapeaud, Manuel León Fanjul, Johnny Leya (Traumnovelle)

Gaetan Brunet, Chloé Valadié (UR)

Javier García-Germán (TAAs)

Lighting: Arcadia Lightwear

Collaborators: Elvis Jerkič, Vanesa Maček, Josipa Regović

Coordinator in Venice: eiletz | ortigas architects

Producer: Muzej za arhitekturo in oblikovanje (MAO)


With the Support of the Ministry of Culture of Republic Slovenia

Strategic Partner: Eles

Partner: Centre for Creativity

Sponsors: S.Anselmo, KO-SI, SLOLES, Arcadia Lightwear, Javor, Murales, Xella, Swisspearl, MF Mizarstvo Filipič, Nomago, Lepa Vida, L56, Kovinarstvo Golob



Arsenale, Sestiere Castello

Campo della Tana 2169/f

30122 Benetke



  1. May–26. November 2023


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Press Contact

Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO)

Rusjanov trg 7

SI–1000 Ljubljana

Smilja Štravs

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