We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Green award winner of our “Monte D'Oiro Wine Tasting Room” competition – Kenan Vatrenjak from Bosnia!

Kenan Vatrenjak from Bosnia

I am an architect with 10 years of experience working on projects with the widest scope of scales and typologies, from urban master plans to shelving systems. With five partners, I am a co‐founder of an award winning design studio FILTER Arhitektura. Beside numerous commissions, we are recognizable for continuous participation in design competitions and a prominent role in a new generation of architects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, fully engaged in the local context but responding to it with contemporary and international design language.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance, what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where the company/individuals have been involved?

I have been involved and am interested in projects of various scales, such as product design, building design and urban plans. Scale is of no importance to me. A chair and a city block are equally complex design challenges. FILTER Arhitektura participations in international competitions reflect these interests. Our “TentHouse” cabin has been awarded honorable mention in the competition for “Himalayan Hut”, 2015. We also took the first place for our master plan of “River Block and Walk Zenica”, 2019.  Furthermore, we have deepened our understanding of design tasks through numerous realized commissions, such as “Praying Hall Zurich”.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

Architecture, or design products in general, for us are tools for improving quality of life in the widest terms and a way to inform us about or uncover the conditions we live in. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country of loose and vibrant market conditions, and a lack of institutional authority which is fully reflected by the state of architectural production. At the same time, there is no public recognition of the social importance of the profession. In this situation, an architect often stands as a sole proponent of public interest or as a sole visionary of it! In a way, it makes us especially sensitive to the responsibility of our practice.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Participation in architectural vision competitions is a form of research. No idea, no drawing is ever lost. I see it as a long-term development of specific architectural themes that soon or later find their way to the construction site. Our project “TentHouse” over time evolved into the “Zoran Šimić” bivouac project that was built in 2019 and gained unexpected international media coverage. Retroactively, we can recognize this development and see how crucial competition participation was. I say this with modesty and reservation, but why not winning and building it right away?

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

We can look at competitions as a training field. There, we have a chance to work on tasks hardly attainable in the current market conditions. “Monte D'Oiro Wine Tasting Room” competition brought to me a whole new range of criteria and priorities: very specific natural conditions, a need for an unordinary space language, representational quality, etc. In competitions, we learn a lot, both from our design process and from others’ proposals we can understand thoroughly. Observing winners is always a surprise; an intriguing one. Also, eventual success in the competition brings many benefits for the company that reach beyond the scope of the competition itself. It brands a company and makes its work visible worldwide, which in turn makes many new professional connections. It has been my experience from quite a few awarded competition projects.

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