In the close proximity of the popular tourist mountain resort Divčibare, on the slopes of the mountain Maljen in western Serbia, a young architectural duo Tijana and Andrej Mitrovic have built their own summer house, the design of which was inspired by the model of Serbian traditional chalets ( ‘ brvnara’ in Serbian).

The authors acknowledged the characteristics of vernacular architecture building blocks,  adapted and put to good use some of them such as geometric structure, contact with the ground, materialization, the porch, etc. The proportion of the house is fully harmonized with the natural environment of pine vegetation and undergrowth, while its geometric shapes stem from their contextual aspects, such as mountain conditions and steep rocky terrain, as well as the transformation of traditional mountain chalets. Through the duality of the house, the architects have deftly combined traditional and modern aesthetic expression.

traditional chalet redesigned

Applying white ceramic tile on the main volume of the house seems to have made an overwhelming impression of dematerialization, which emphasizes its shape and makes it somewhat abstract in relation to the rural environment. In the white half of the house near the living room, there is a kitchen with the dining room. This space with huge window panes, which provide splendid views of the surroundings, is intended for both socializing and contemplation.


One part of the chalet is in black color where there is an entrance with a porch overlooking the white part in such a way that it forms an open bedroom area on the first floor, where the roof slopes used as storage are. Architects draw inspiration in vernacular architecture using traditional timber and woodwork i.e. shingles for black facade layer on one half of the house, highlighting the duality and contextualization of this house.

A small chalet exemplifies the design approach of new generation architects in Serbia, which is research-informed forms in line with appropriate criteria and standards and bearing in mind the principles of traditional heritage through a variety of ways for a reinterpretation of traditional architectural motifs.

redesigning traditional house

Photo credits: Relja Ivanić

Author: Nebojsa Antešević