Church Saint Jera Slovenia
© Miran Kambič/ Wienerberger d.o.o.

Between heaven and earth

architectum edition #26

Church Saint Jera Slovenia
© Miran Kambič/ Wienerberger d.o.o.

St. Gera church

in Slovenia

Church Saint Jera Slovenia
© Miran Kambič/ Wienerberger d.o.o.

Used products

Amadeus flat-sawn beaver tail tiles, dark-grey

Between heaven and earth

Just one hundred metres from the summit of the Trdina mountain in the Gorjanci range on the Croatian-Slovenian border stands St. Gera church, which was built in the 15th century and whose ruins were rediscovered in 1993. To restore the spirit of the former place of worship, the architect Borut Simič designed a modern roof structure in 2012.

St. Gera church in Slovenia

When we talk about St. Gera church, it is not enough to solely consider the rational basis of the monument, the spiritual aspect must also be taken into account. The angular form of the new roof reflects the contours of the surrounding mountains. It is formed like a tectonic mantle. This architectural vernacular is free of unnecessary frills, simply the sincere use of simple materials that is intended to symbolise the permanence and reality of faith.

The omega point

The roof consists of a three-dimensional steel structure, supported by five pillars on which the load-bearing framework of wooden spars rests. The transition from the practical to the sacral is realised by the geometry of the substructure, which is directs the viewer’s perspective towards heaven in the direction of the “Omega Point”, which according to Teilhard de Chardin is personified by Jesus Christ, the point towards which everything strives and in which evolution finds its ultimate expression.

Heavenly design

The historical building was restored and modernised in a way that recalls a church and which at a subconscious level is immediately identifiable as such. The apparent dematerialisation of the roof is intended to enable visitors to experience the symbolic separation between heaven and earth.

The primary elements for achieving this effect are dark-grey glazed beaver tail tiles of varying dimensions. The size of the tiles decreases rhythmically as they get closer the ridge. The roof is intended to both reflect and at the same to merge with the sky. Under clouds and sun, the light plays in different ways on its surface, making the church disappear and reappear under certain light conditions. From a distance, it fades into the “sfumato” landscape of the blue-green forest. Stone, brick, wood and metal – millennia-old construction materials – are combined into a contemporary, flowing shape that evokes wonder in the visitor.

Surface image Tondach rooftile Mulde Verschiebeziegel amadeus grey, Flächenbild Tondach Mulde Verschiebeziegel Amadeus Grau
© Wienerberger Österreich GmbH

Facts & Figures

Project name: Roof of the ruins of St. Gera church on Trdina mountain in the Gorjanci range, Slovenia


Architects   Borut Simič, u.d.i.a., NEAP d.o.o.

Client   MO Novo mesto

Year of completion   2012

Used products   Flat-sawn beaver tail tiles of varying sizes, dark-grey (Amadeus)

Building type  Public

Published in  architectum  #26

Church Saint Jera Slovenia
© Miran Kambič/ Wienerberger d.o.o.

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