Tuesday, 28. On 30 November, the Association of Historic Towns of Slovenia officially opened the renovated premises of the new learning laboratory in Škofja Loka, which was created within the framework of the partnership project School of Renovation for New Generations, supported by the Norwegian Mechanism and the Ministry of Cohesion and Regional Development.

The renovated premises of the former town hall, the Old Rotovž, which is the most characteristic building of Škofja Loka’s town square dating back to the 16th century, will be used primarily for the education of primary school teachers in the field of immovable cultural heritage. The premises, which were abandoned more than 15 years ago when the last occupants moved out, were falling into disrepair. They were in need of a complete renovation, which we undertook as part of the project Renovation School for a New Generation, a call for proposals from the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.

The coordinated cooperation of the project partners, especially the Municipality of Škofja Loka, which led the challenging renovation project, and the experts from the Slovenian Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, who carried out the restoration work, has resulted in the creation of an exceptional space for a new teaching laboratory for cultural heritage, where workshops will be held to train teachers in the integration of cultural heritage content into the teaching process, in line with the new curricula being developed within the project.

During the restoration of the rooms, the restorers uncovered various phases from at least 500 years of the building’s life. These finds have remained visible and preserved and tell the story of the building technology and the skills of the craftsmen and artisans, the materials and treatments used, the stonework and other details, the colours and paintings used, which have transformed the house and transformed the rooms over the centuries.The new learning laboratory will thus be an exceptional learning environment in itself, with 13 probes, which will also be presented in a professional manner, a real learning ground for learning about cultural heritage, the laws of construction and manual skills. In January, the new teaching laboratory will host the training and education of teachers for more heritage education in primary schools, as part of the project School of Renewal for a New Generation.

In addition to the members of the association and project partners, the renovated premises were visited by State Secretary at the Ministry of Culture Matevž Čelik and Director of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage Špela Spanžel, as well as by representatives of the Building Research Institute of Slovenia (ZAG), a leading scientific and research institution in the field of building construction in Slovenia, which is also actively involved in the field of preservation of cultural heritage.

After a tour of the premises, the participants opened a lively debate on the conservation and renovation of the built heritage in old town centres in particular. The State Secretary at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Matevž Čelik Vidmar, and the Director General of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, Špela Spanžel, discussed with representatives of cities how to unify approaches to renovation at national level and increase activities in this field.

All present agreed that they shared common goals – to successfully renovate and revitalise the built heritage and to achieve as many successful and professionally realised renovations as possible. The highlight of the event was a festive event in the cultural hall of the Sokol House, which was dedicated to a double programme: the opening of the new learning laboratory and the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Community of Ancient Towns, the predecessor of the Association of Historic Towns of Slovenia.