‘Fairytale’ model houses preserve traditional Bosnian architecture

SARAJEVO (XINHUA) – Running a small shop in a bazaar of about 600 years of history in Sarajevo, Muamer Mujcic has been dedicated to the preservation of traditional Bosnian architecture, or “fairy tale houses”, by building models of them.

“I am not advocating that modern people should now build their homes in the same way the traditional Bosnian houses were made. That wouldn’t be practical. I wouldn’t do it myself. But we should be aware of the beauty and uniqueness of our traditional architecture and try to preserve some of it for future generations,” said Mujcic, who is self-taught.

His shop is filled with small models of these “fairytale” houses, unique in shape and honouring the traditional style. The traditional aesthetic of the Bosnian houses that developed throughout the centuries was strongly influenced by the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The old ways of building homes were widely replaced due to the use of modern materials and designs after World War II and traditional houses have become a curiosity even to locals.

Smaller than the size of today’s house, the traditional Bosnian house is usually a two-floor building with the ground floor being made of stone. The upper floor is usually a wood-beam skeleton covered with sun-dried bricks made of clay and a straw mixture. The roofs have four symmetric sides and are covered with wood stripes. The residence is upstairs while the ground floor is reserved for the pantry and for business. The two floors are connected by narrow wooden stairs. Traditional houses are surrounded by wooden fences or stone walls for privacy, and the exterior features a combination of a green garden and a paved courtyard.

Mujcic said he is passionate about traditional Bosnian architecture. For him, it was initially a hobby and he never tried to build a real house but preferred his fairy tale-like and colourful interpretation of the culture as showcased in his models.

Models of traditional Bosnian houses made by artist Muamer Mujcic. PHOTO: XINHUA