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Competition: Salt-pan house, Slovenia

Contest site: Sečovlje Salina Nature Park

A design contest is being held to rethink the ruins of an abandoned former salt-pan house at the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park in Slovenia

The free-to-enter competition, organised by Slovenian magazine Outsider, seeks ‘sympathetic and daring’ proposals for a temporary intervention using cross-laminated timber panels for one of the many abandoned former dwellings that occupy the historic saltworks.

The call for concepts aims to generate debate around conservation approaches to culturally and naturally significant sites in the central European country on the eastern edge of the Adriatic Sea. The winning scheme is planned to be constructed on the site next year.

In its brief, the magazine says: ‘The goal of the competition is to stop further ruin of one of the remaining salt-pan houses at Sečovlje Salina Nature Park while using a new intervention to form a spatial model of cultural heritage preservation in the southern area of the salt-pans.

‘Fifty years ago, when salt-making was abandoned, there were more than a hundred houses standing in the southern part. Today, only around 70 ruins remain, reminding us of the once key economic activity in Piran. Heritage preservation always demands a new intervention, albeit small. This is an opportunity for a fresh take on the balance between the preservation of cultural and natural heritage.’

Sečovlje is the northernmost salt gathering area in the Mediterranean. It is located around 25km south-west of Trieste on the coastal border between Slovenia and Croatia. The huge site has been used to gather the precious resource for centuries and still hosts a major saltworks producing salt for human consumption.

Since the 1960s, large parts of the coastal salt flats have been designated as a 750ha nature reserve with the landscape featuring the ruined former dwellings of the people who once gathered and prepared their products locally by hand. Around 70 of the original 100 houses still remain following the ending of salt production. 

The contest focuses on the shell of a former salt-pan house and invites proposals for bold temporary interventions which could provide a new template for similar conservation projects elsewhere.

The anonymous competition is open to everyone and participating teams may feature up to four members. Judges include Outsider editorial board members Miloš Kosec, Matevž Granda and Srđan Nađ.

The overall winner, to be announced in February, will receive a €3,000 prize plus €2,000 to cover the costs of attending a workshop in Slovenia to develop detailed drawings for the project’s construction. A €1,500 second prize, €500 third prize and three honourable mentions will also be awarded.

The registration deadline is 30 January and submissions must be completed by 31 January

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information 

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