Rafut Park and Villa

Villa Rafut / Egyptian Villa / Laščak's Villa

Location

Nova Gorica, Slovenia

45.947998, 13.638962

Author

Anton Laščak, Girolamo Luzzato

Architects

Built in

1914

Modified in

1947

Built by one of the most successful Slovenian architects working in Egypt at the turn of the centuries, this personal residence was first bombed in the WWI, then nationalised and served as home of the Institute for Public Health for more than five decades until it was finally abandoned and left to decay.

In order to approach Vila Rafut today one must first commit a trespass, manoeuvre through the bamboo invasion on what was once the carefully cultivated Park Rafut only then to arrive at the villa that faces the park’s oversized vegetation with its four blank facades. The recently bricked up windows and balconies were originally numerous and diverse in character, scale, and detail. It is as if Laščak’s intention was to create a dynamic oculus focused on the exotic plants imported from Egypt, never before seen in Gorizia’s habitat. What sight would omit from the lower floors is covered from the minaret-like tower that supervises the region. On the contrary, today, the villa is a bunker that impleads unwanted visitors from roaming around its interior. It is the viewless palace in no one’s Eden.

But let us unpack the site’s anomalies further. The architect, thought of Slovenian decent, proclaimed himself Friulian. In the same self-defining manner, in constructing Park Rafut, he inserted a sovereign Oriental state right at the centre of a multi-ethnic territory. Anyhow, the “immigrant” Oriental state-within-a-state outlived all three “native” regimes: the Habsburg Monarchy, the Italian Kingdom and the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. The property still stands right on the border between the Republic of Slovenia and Italy. Paradoxically, the common perception of Vila Rafut is that it does not fit the local context. The truth, however, is that the local context transformed numerous times while the villa’s peculiarity remains the same. Vila Rafut has always been regarded as the Other in relation to its surroundings and Park Rafut remains the place that is out of place. Vila Rafut’s peculiarity was created when the culture that was over concerned with establishing fixed identities was faced with the relativeness of identity.

Text by Danica Sretenović

Function

1914Residential

1947 Institute for Public Health

2018 Abandoned

Ownership

1914 Private (Anton Laščak)

1947 National Health Insurance Institute

2018 Ministry for Education, Science and Sports (until 2015), Ministry of Culture

Condition

1914

1947 Poorly adapted and reconstructed

2018 Decaying

Property Management

1914

1947

2018 University of Nova Gorica (until 2015)

Form of government

1914 Monarchy

1947 Socialist Federal Republic (until 1991), Parliamentary Democracy

2018 Parliamentary Democracy

Spatial Planning Agency

1914

1947 National Planning Agency

2018 National Planning Agency

Type of heritage and protection

1914

1947 Heritage (Park)

2018 Heritage (park), Local Heritage (villa)