OFIS Architects is an architecture firm with the ability to turn a project into a timeless masterpiece that tells a story through time. Design is the main strategy for merging material techniques, environmental conditions, and concepts grounded in client requirements. OFIS Architects was founded in 2000 under the leadership of Rok Oman and Špela Videčnik in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. The impact of their work has earned them special mention for the Häuser Award (2019), nomination for the Mies van der Rohe Awards (2019), winners of the Archidesign Club Award (2014), Golden Pencil Award (2013), Building of the Year ArchDaily (2009), among others. Additionally, they have been invited to participate in lectures at Harvard GSD (2015), International Architecture Forum (2016), London Design Festival (2018), Hong Kong University (2020), Politecnico Milano (2021), AHA Forum Madrid (2022), among others.

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Cover of the research project “Habitation In Extreme Environments” (2014) _© OFIS arhitekti, 2019

The Concept: Design Strategy

OFIS Architects represents the concept of the work through design. Among their projects, there are 3 that tell the story through the form and function of volume: Hotel Bohinj, Catwalk House, and Habitable Wheel. Three projects with completely different uses, but with a message transmitted from the interior to the exterior of the architectural project. In the first place, the renovation of Hotel Bohinj lasted from 2019 to 2022, the hotel is located on a plateau amid the mountains and the view of Lake Bohinj in Slovenia. The design considerations included interior remodeling inspired by local architecture, structural reinforcement for seismic protection, and sustainable renovation to improve energy efficiency. Although there are many technical details to meet these objectives, the design strategy focused on capitalizing on the landscape views to create exterior circulations that would transform the stays of the guests into exclusive Slovenia landscape tours. Additionally, it was complemented with interior wall coverings, furniture, and ceilings in local larch wood, common area floors in light gray to represent the color of the region’s rocks, exterior cladding with wooden frameworks, and gable roof covers inspired by the mountain landscape.

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Triangular roofs and lattices made of larch wood at Hotel Bohinj, nestled among the mountains_© OFIS arhitekti, 2019

In the second place, Catwalk House is a residential project of 195 m2 built with regional materials without chemical treatments to prevent allergies in the family’s children (2023). The house is composed of service areas and living spaces connected through a bridge on the second floor. The architectural program includes a carport for cars and bicycles, storage rooms, a terrace, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom area, and bedrooms. Additionally, it requires a garden to preserve a 50-year-old magnolia tree, a large window overlooking the garden, and a balcony for the cat. Based on these client requirements, OFIS Architects created a volume measuring 30.00 m by 10.00 m with a ventilated facade cladding with solid larch wood slats and insulated with 22 cm of thermal insulation. This volume accommodated the requested spaces by the client, including the bridge connecting the bedroom area with the terrace, serving as a balcony for the cat to roam without the need to leave the house, hence the name: Catwalk House.

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Facade of Catwalk House, showcasing the continuity of the volume through the bridge designed for the family’s cat_© OFIS arhitekti, 2019

In third place, Habitable Wheel is the European Space Technologies Cultural Centre (KSEVT) built in Vitanje, Slovenia by 4 Slovenian architecture firms: Bevk Perović Arhitekti, Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti, OFIS Arhitekti, and Sadar + Vuga Arhitekti. The design concept originates from the first geostationary space station described by Herman Potocnik Noordung. The materialization of the design concept was achieved with a concrete structure composed of two cylinders of different sizes that create the sensation of artificial gravity, in other words, the cylinders appear to float above the glass walls that define the main entrance of KSEVT. The building’s architectural program includes spaces such as a lobby, multiple rooms, an auditorium for 300 people, a research area, an exhibition area, and circulation areas with semicircular ramps.

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Facade of the Habitable Wheel, KSEVT _© OFIS arhitekti, 2019

The impact of the environment and materials in the project

It is clear that OFIS Arhitekti takes into account multiple factors in the design process, just like the design concept, the climatic conditions of the environment and the benefits of materials according to the context are also considered by the architectural firm. Since its inception, the firm has considered the landscape as a design element, as is the case with the Farewell Chapel project located next to the Krasnja cemetery, near Ljubljana, Slovenia. The chapel has a service area, an interior farewell zone, and a plateau that connects the chapel to the hill. The contour lines of the hill define the dividing walls of the chapel as a replica of the site’s layout. The materials used are larch wood to generate warmth in the interior areas and concrete for the retaining walls and the roof where a cross-shaped skylight opens. The project’s character demands serenity, and OFIS Arhitekti managed to provide spaces designed in form and materiality to connect users through an experience between the project and the environment.

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Fachada de Farewell Chapel_© OFIS arhitekti, 2019

From a more investigative approach, OFIS Arhitekti presents Glass House, a housing project in the middle of the Gorafe desert in Granada, Spain (2018). The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the thermal and structural capabilities of Guardian Glass in a dwelling ranging from 20.00 m2 to 63.00 m2. The housing program consists of a bedroom, living room, and sanitary core for personal hygiene, all connected to a covered terrace with a 360° view of the surroundings. Undoubtedly, the main material is glass, implemented in the floor-to-ceiling enclosure to counteract high-speed winds and support the roof of the dwelling. Additionally, the design of the enclosure’s construction system considers a triple-glazed layer to mitigate climatic conditions and solar incidence. In this way, the use of glass as a traditional window material transforms into an envelope resistant to extreme desert conditions.

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The Glass House dwelling located in the Gorafe desert, Spain_© OFIS arhitekti, 2019

Another residential example is the House Step Level. A single-family housing project of 385 m2, located in Ljubljana, Slovenia (2019). The main characteristic of this housing project is the 2.50 m difference in level between the street access and the rest of the plot. This environmental condition led to the design of the house in 4 levels with terraces overlooking the interior garden of the dwelling. The underground floor contains the garden at the lowest level of the plot, connecting to areas such as the living room, kitchen, laundry, wine cellar, and toilet. The ground floor is the level connecting the entrance of the dwelling with the garage, lobby, living room, and terrace for guests. The first and second floor is destined for 4 bedrooms with 2 shared bathrooms and a master bedroom with a dressing room, each floor with a terrace. The firm achieves a play of volumes through the definition of levels according to their use and the need for privacy. In addition to this volumetric composition, OFIS Arhitekti implements a brick envelope with lattice on the facade facing the street to permeate the spaces without compromising the privacy of the rooms, while the dwelling opens with windows towards the terraces and the garden.

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Lateral Facade of House Step Level, showcasing the interplay of levels for the creation of the residence’s terraces_© OFIS arhitekti, 2019

OFIS Arhitekti stands as a beacon of innovative architecture that responds to client requirements, leverages environmental conditions and materials, and tells a story through its projects. Despite the utilization of technological resources in materials, the architects manage to materialize design concepts into functional architectural programs, configured with efficient structural, thermal, and spatial systems. This balance is the result of considering key aspects of the environment such as terrain relief, local materials, thermal and structural properties of materials, and climatic conditions, among others.


OFIS arhitekti (2023). OFIS arhitekti Official website [online]. Available at:  https://ofis.si/eng/home.html [Accessed 24 April 2024]. 




Andrea is an architect and researcher passionate about sustainability in architecture, social transformations, and heat transfer in architectural envelopes for warm climates. Additionally, she loves traveling to explore architectural landmarks around the world and, in this way, travel through time.