In a lesson for animal-friendly designers, animal rights campaigners and pig breeders worldwide, Zagreb-based studio SKROZ Architecture has designed an eco-friendly farm for an indigenous breed of pigs, reinterpreting the traditional barn design while drawing on the vernacular of rural Croatian farm buildings.

Professional breeder Sin Ravnice engaged SKROZ in 2019 to design a farm for the black Slavonian pig, an indigenous Croatian breed. The client’s brief sought a farm that was designed to the highest standards of organic livestock farming.

Key factors driving the design included optimisation of the breeding process, better housing and a more efficient way of working; despite the fact that it was a ‘factory process’, the farm would not be associated with typical massive halls that had no contact with the outdoor environment. The design also had to make room for future expansion to accommodate a higher capacity.

Located in Cret Viljevski near Donji Miholjac, a town in the Slavonia region of Croatia, the farm designed by SKROZ consists of two identical barns, with farmyards and a manure pit in the middle.

Moving away from the conventional barn design, which typically has a low-rise building with livestock spaces separated by a passage in the middle, the eco farm has an elevated gallery area, which not only allows access to the stalls below but also serves as a warehouse space to store animal bedding and feed. This helped achieve a larger usable area for the animals (compared to a barn with a similar floor area) without affecting the breeding process.

The eco farm is also designed to be adaptable with the architects employing movable partitions to increase or reduce spaces based on the needs of the animals.

“Movable partitions between the boxes enable the creation of temporary corridors necessary for the functioning of the building, while the evacuation of the roof surfaces in the vertical and horizontal direction formed the necessary covered outer zones, while providing natural ventilation and interior lighting,” the architects explained.

The pitched roof panes have been dislocated along the ridge, allowing natural light to enter and enabling efficient ventilation through the corridor. In terms of materiality, SKROZ chose resilient materials suitable for the animals, which are fond of rooting, digging, and biting. The base consists of a concrete volume on which the wooden structure rests, and the building is topped by a traditional red flat tile roof.

The facade features a series of wooden laths made of Slavonian oak placed diagonally in two directions to form a lattice-like structure. This reinterpretation of the geometry of wooden facades found on traditional farm buildings in the region aims to create efficient ventilation and protection from the sun, while connecting a classic farm building shaped by modern standards with its surroundings and architectural heritage.

Photography: Bosnic+Dorotic