The Open House Slovenia Festival (OHS) first took place in 2010, joining the ranks of the international Open House Worldwide network. This project is centred around the basic premise that for a set amount of days a selection of outstanding architectural projects gets to be opened to the wider public. Resident houses, public architectures, various renovations and so on get to be presented in situ, with the visitors thus getting a much deeper insight into contemporary architectural practices as well as the related technologies.
The festival is organised by a non-profit institute Afront, which in 2012 got awarded the Plečnik medal for this initiative. Under its name the institute also runs various other activities of a similar nature. It promotes effective dialogue between professionals, industry, politics, economy and the general public.
For each rendition of the festival a committee of architecture, construction and spatial planning professionals chooses a selection of (relatively) new architectural works – private houses, educational or cultural institutions, business, sports, tourism and health facilities, open spaces, etc. Most often they were previously given various prizes, honourable mentions or were otherwise recognised as significant. These chosen works usually make up roughly half of the presented buildings (about a hundred of them each year), with the others being the ones already shown in the previous years. The latest contemporary architecture is featured alongside successful adaptations of historical buildings.
Organised tours are guided by the architects or building owners/users, with more than 300 architects, owners, event organisers and volunteers participating in the event every year. All events are free, with the visits to private houses needing to be pre-booked online.
A number of other events are featured during the festival – film screenings, city walks, workshops, lectures, exhibitions (in 2014, for example, one on the issues of architecture and sensory deprivation), and so on. Usually a part of the programme is also aimed at children.
Open House Worldwide network
The Open House initiative began in London as early as 1992. It was launched by Victoria Thornton, who felt that the established mediums of presenting architecture often tend to obscure its actual qualities. She addressed this discrepancy by literally opening the doors into architectural works, thus launching the Open house London, an enterprise that has fast grown into the Open House Worldwide network.
The expanded Open house initiative offers architectural events throughout the whole year. Currently it comprises about 30 cities from around the world, with the Slovene node of the network being the only one focusing on the whole country (thus also functioning as some sort of a national showcase).
OHS online architectural collection
Web presentations of the chosen houses are equipped with photo galleries, short explanatory texts, basic technical details and lists of the people and companies involved. Thus the OHS initiative has created the biggest online Slovene contemporary architectural guide, which in 2016 featured around 300 buildings and spatial arrangements and more than 500 authors/architects. One can also browse through a list of select architectural bureaus with their short descriptions and contacts.
OHS tours and conferences
On request the Open House Slovenia organises custom made guided tours for individuals and groups throughout the whole year. Furthermore, the OHS collective also sets up sporadic tours to events like the Venice Biennale of Architecture or various cities in Slovenia and its wider region.
In promoting its objective of sustainable, socially responsible and innovative architecture, OHS is cooperating with various partners (among them the Museum of Architecture and Design, the Piran Days of Architecture, the ARHITUR conference, the IEDC - Bled School of Management, and others). In 2014 it organised the conference called 'Create a market for wooden products and services', followed by a conference and business meeting called 'Opportunities in sustainable construction' in 2015 and a participatory conference for business opportunities titled 'Innovation in healthy wooden sustainable buildings' in 2016.