Background and early projects
Before setting up the studio in 1996, Gregorc and Vrhovec both worked in interior design and planning. Rather than waiting for commissions and investors, they are often involved in investing in and constructing their own designs – an approach more common abroad than in Slovenia. Two of their earlier projects were realised this way. The first was a row of five studio lofts in Rožna Dolina, Ljubljana (2005), with elegant demarcations between living and working, private and communal. The second was a group of four single-family "passive houses" in the Barje, the area of marshland to the south of the city. Like much of their work, it references older Slovenian building materials and styles – in this case, the use of black (tar-protected) timber as favoured by earlier generations of marshland builders. Both projects also, to some extent, express the architects' admiration for the aesthetics and social focus of the American "Case Study Programme", the experimental residential house-building initiative that ran from the end of WW2 to the mid-1960s.
Other noteworthy projects have followed, including Center Ig (2008), a multi-purpose, modern, urban-style building on Ljubljana's outskirts that quotes the steeped roofs of traditional Slovenian architecture, and a three-apartment building in the village of Podkoren (2009). This latter project was, in the architects' words, an attempt "to design a contemporary house that would evoke the traditional architecture of the Alpine farming estate". While it attracted considerable admiration from the profession both at home and abroad, winning an Alpine Interior Award in 2011, it drew the ire of local residents at odds with what they saw as the intrusion of contemporary style into a predominantly traditional architectural landscape.
The studio closed out the decade with perhaps their most internationally resonant project up that point, House Celovška 01 (2018), a characteristically bold confrontation between tradition and modernity, which is located at the start of one of the main roads leading out of Ljubljana. It won praise from across the architectural world, as well as a 2018 Golden Pencil Award and a nomination for the EUMies Award, one of Europe's most prestigious prizes in the field of architecture, in 2019.
2018 Winter Olympics
In Gregorc and Vrhovec designed the interior of the Slovenian House at the Alpensia resort in Pyongchang, host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics. This followed on from their work, in collaboration with the Arnoldvuga+ agency, on the Slovenian Olympic Education Centre (SOIC) in the BTC City shopping complex in Ljubljana, which won a Top Design Achievement Award from the Designers Society of Slovenia (DOS) in 2017.
Awards and nominations
- 2018 Golden Pencil Award
- 2019 EUMies Award (nominated)
- 2011 Alpine Interior Award
- 2017 Top Design Achievement Award, Designers Society of Slovenia (with arnoldvuga+)
- Gregorc/Vrhovec website (in English)
- Interview with Vanja Gregorc and Aleš Vrhovec, Mladina, May 2009 (in Slovenian)
- Interview with Gregorc and Vrhovec, Outsider, October 2018, with particular reference to Celovška 01 (in Slovenian)
- MMC, May 2019, Celovška 01 (in Slovenian)
- Dnevnik, December 2018, Celovška 01 (in Slovenian)
- EUMies Award page, Celovška 01
- Mladina, report on Rožna Dolina, May 2009 (in Slovenian)
- Ig Centre presentation, Archdaily
- Report on the house at Podkoren and associated controversy, Mladina, September 2011 (in Slovenian)
- Slovenian House, BigSEE, September 2018