Municipality Ivančna Gorica
Ivačna Gorica, Slovenia
Today, anyone can walk through the rooms where the pupils of Višnje Gora used to go to school. The former primary school has been transformed into the Carniolan Bee House – apilab, which today houses not only an exhibition, catering facilities and a tourist information centre, but also a small hostel and a conference room with laboratories. In addition to the building itself, we designed the interiors of the exhibition space, the tourist information centre and the café.
The starting point for the design was to preserve the heritage elements and the soul of the old building. We have intervened in the space with materials and forms that gently blend with the existing elements and provide the basis for a variety of beekeeping and apiculture themes. The tension is created by the wood-lined transitions between spaces and themes, which prepare the visitor for a new ambience and new content.
The visitor’s path takes him through 5 themed areas. The first room – the meadow – welcomes the visitor with an intimate, subdued ambience, completely enveloped by the play of birds. In addition to the projected narrative, whose main protagonists are Phillipp Rotshutz and the Carniolan bee, the atmosphere is created by the shadows of the grasses and the luminous screens with content on stylised supports. It is in this nostalgic space that we are first introduced to the Carniolan bee and the beginnings of beekeeping in Slovenia.
At the end of the story, Emil invites us to the next room, which we have called the laboratory, where Philipp’s son Emil takes over the storytelling. In this room we learn more about the craft and biology of bees, and a large part of the space is also dedicated to the classic presentation of museum objects, which, thanks to the exhibition design and the interior, become the central contextual and design elements of the space.
The next room – the room of living bees – is a surprise. In cooperation with the ČZS, we have dedicated a part of the exhibition to the hive, where visitors can observe the behaviour of bees in the hive through glass. The sound and smell of the beehive adds to the already special experience.
In Antonia’s kitchen you can also learn about bee products and apitherapy. The wood-panelled room with a large bar creates a sense of homeliness, the large bar with seating invites you to join in, and the apitherapy cabinet provides further information on the healing properties of bee products.
Since bees and beekeeping have always been an important part of Slovenian tradition, it is not surprising that the motif of the bee is deeply rooted in tradition and culture, and all the information about it can also be found in the last room of the exhibition, which is designed in such a way as to invite you to sit down and test the knowledge you have gained from the exhibition.
On the ground floor, the seemingly fragmented and separate stations are linked by a single concept of a ceiling light installation. A group of hexagons, suggesting a beekeeping theme, winds under the ceiling through the reception area with the Tourist Information Centre to the café, which is mainly accessed from the terrace.
In the reception area, where there is also space for promotional material and souvenirs, a wooden frame invites the visitor deeper into the porch of the TIC. In addition to the classic multimedia content, the room also houses VR goggles that immerse you in the virtual reality of Podsmreka Castle and other nearby attractions. In this way, the site becomes a real link and meeting point for the tourist offer of the whole region.
The café is a pleasant addition to the local gastronomic offer. In a bright environment, overlooking greenery and woods, we have designed a café that continues the visual image of the centre, but can also function independently. The soft and simple design and the interplay of wooden elements create a cosy and warm atmosphere, where the hour passes unnoticed after a good coffee and the morning newspaper.
With the exhibition itself and the multi-purpose nature of the building, Višnja Gora and the wider region have become an important point on the tourist and educational map of Slovenia and, dare we say, Europe. This is where the most industrious bee – the Carniolan honey bee – comes from.
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