The Bovec house

Regional Framework


The Bovec area is surrounded by high mountain ridges.


The central part, with Bovec as its regional and community centre, is a typical basin which in the north-east spreads into two valleys. The north one turned towards Log pod Mangrtom and Predel mountain pass. The eastern valley is Trenta, which spreads as far as Vršič mountain pass.


Geographically, this is a very confined area with its own life-style that can be seen in all cultural fields, from dialect to architecture. In this region, littoral architecture was mixed with Alpine architecture; thus a unique rural architecture developed.


Subsequently, only main characteristics of the Bovec house are presented. Bovec house is described in detail (also in English) in the book: Kajzelj, Miroslav. 1997. The Bovec House. Ljubljana: Debora.


The Bovec House


Some writers name the Bovec rural house also Bovec-Trenta type house, some even consider the Trenta house separately. In fact, this is a general type of building with some slight variations from village Žaga to Trenta. Moving from west to the east, only the materials of the buildings change. The plan of the house and its form remain the same in whole area.


The Bovec house has a stable on the ground floor, outer stairs and an isle, locally called ganjk. Inside the house, three functional parts are arranged according to the height. On the ground floor there is a stable with farm rooms, above them there are dwelling rooms, and the attic is used for storing hay. The house is usually situated on a sloping area and therefore the lower part with farm rooms at the rear of the house is often completely dug in to the hill-side. Directly from the ganjk you enter to the kitchen which function as entrance, central and dwelling room of the house. At the side of this central room, chamber is situated, which in its final form was followed by another, symmetrically added chamber.


The outer walls are massive. They are covered by steep roof with the greater incline than that of the Alpine houses of our central mountain area. As far as the roof covering can be traced back, the roof was covered by shingle, which is preserved to some extent only in Trenta.


Energy Efficiency


In rural homes, awareness and knowledge about healthy and energy efficient construction were a necessity, due to extremely harsh weather conditions.


Southern slopes of the valley are much more populated. Many buildings are situated on a slope at the edge of the forest and at the proper height above the river so that in winter, the temperature is a few degrees higher than at the bottom of the valley. Where the terrain allows, the longer face pointed towards the sun. As a rule, all the main openings are on the longitudinal, southern face. The northern side has no openings except for the exit or the kitchen window. Each of the two side faces have only one window, necessary for transversal light and ventilation of the bedrooms, which also have an additional two windows on the southern side, facing the sun. The relatively closed side faces are also sensible because of the strong winds that blow from the east to the west and vice-versa. A small face surface with only one small window did not resist the wind and thus protect the house from cooling. Lime trees, maple trees and nut trees were planted on the side faces for additional protection from the wind.


Knowledge of the heat zones was likely formed gradually, based on experience from generation to generation. The dwelling room, kitchen, was divided into two heat zones. The table was close to the entrance, on the sunny side of the room, while the fireplace was on the cold side of the room. On both sides, the kitchen is enclosed by two chambers functioning as heat buffers. Bellow the centrally situated kitchen there is a stable, which radiates plenty of heat. Above the ceiling, in the attic there is a few meters high pile of hay - excellent heat isolation. Stone walling is a poor heat isolator, but the proper room positioning can make up for this technical imperfection. The advantage of the stone wall is its weight, which is able to accumulate heat. When it gets warm, it gives off the accumulated heat for a long time, creating a room climate with heat stability. In the summer, it also functions as an excellent protector from external heat.


At its entrance on the south face, house has very large jutting roof. Apart from all other functions, it is an excellent regulator of the sunlight. At noon, when the sun is very high at the summer, the jutting roof place the entire south face in the shade. In winter, at Christmas, when the morning sun shines at a very low angle, and when warmth of the sun is appreciated, the shadow is very short, allowing the sun to shine through the windows deep into the house.




Steep roof with deep hip ends significantly separates the Bovec house from the neighbouring Kobarid-Friulian house and connects it with the nearby Alpine world. The form of the roof makes the Bovec style architecture unique rural architecture.


The Bovec house is covered by a steep gable roof, which at both ends finishes in two even steeper hip ends. It is placed unsymmetrically, so that it deeply overhangs the entrance. The slope is sharper than that of the Alpine house of Carniola or Carinthia. Such a steep incline could be result of experience with shingle so that snow could slip from the roof more quickly. The reason might be also the fact that a large attic was required for hay storage. Farm buildings are smaller. Roofs are placed on the building symmetrically and could also be without hip ends.


The roof covering is wooden, made of split larch or pine shingle. Some assumptions exist that the roof was originally covered by thatch. Shingles were later replaced by planks.


Long jutting roof protect all entrances, most of the windows, the balcony and the stairs from the sun and the rain. Its width along the whole house makes it possible for many farm and household jobs to be performed in rainy weather.


Ganjk (balcony) and Stairs


The ganjk along with the stairs is an individual part of the house in its form and construction. It is placed at the longitudinal entrance facade, never on the side face.

The ganjk is supported by beams, which protrude over the longitudinal wall to the required width. The stairs open towards the ganjk and at the outer side they are supported by a stone wall, or wooden paneling. Under the stairs, a convenient woodshed with firewood is usually situated.


In typical farming environment, the stairs are usually constructed of wood. In villages around Bovec and Bovec itself, stairs are often made of brick or stone. The wooden stairs, which lead to the attic, lean against the ganjk. They are usually placed permanently because they are in use in summer and in winter.


Ganjk and the staircase are the only parts of the building which feature some very modest decoration. Another special feature of the Bovec house ganjk: only exceptionally is decorated by flower boxes, because the balustrade is used for beating carpets and drying laundry.




A self supporting chimney is the third special feature of the Bovec house and is preserved only partly. An attic, filled with hay was a constant fire hazard. Chimneys were poorly built, with a lot of drifts, which made the sparks possible to cause fires. The dug in design of the house made a relatively low self supporting chimney possible. Such chimney was technically controllable and there was no fire hazard. The vault kitchen was connected to the chimney by an inclined sheet metal smoke channel: round tube, wrapped with wire and covered with plaster.


Today, such chimneys have no practical value, since the construction technology and methods of heating have changed. The existent self supporting chimneys could be counted on the fingers of one hand.