The Stone Spiral

A karst sinkhole / A stone architectural composition

…Popelar's spiral came about as a phenomenologically logical reaction to a specific sinkhole on the Gora Plateau. It is a demonstration of man's need for idealization and upgrading of the natural form to a rational, geometrically clean image. FULL TEXT

(Prof. Tomáš Valena Ph.D., The Stone Spiral on the Gora Plateau)

The Stone Spiral is an architectural articulation of a particular place/locus of a sinkhole in the Slovenian High Karst Region. I used two specifically architectural elements, a wall and a tower. The wall enclosed the place and demarcated it from the surroundings, while the role of the tower was to announce this narrower, separated place.

The abandoned sinkhole, resembling a kind of a bowl, was special because of the content/sediment it stored inside itself. In the bottom there was a stone jumble , an enormous pile of rocks, which had been thrown there by farmers in the process of cultivating the wider area of the sinkhole into a meadow. Immediately above the sinkhole bottom on its east side there was a large boulder, a sort of axis loci, the axis and the centre of gravity of the place. In this wonderful stone stage set, I envisaged a stone altar in this narrower intimate place of the sinkhole, and wanted to bring man to it. Using the local method of dry construction and the stone material at hand, I materialized this idea by stacking the rocks into a spiral wall, guiding the visitor to descend from the sinkhole edge past the altar into its bottom where the spiral penetrates the earth and leads into unfathomable magnitudes of the underground karst world.

The spiral ramp thus ends with an opposition to the stone tower which announces it at the entrance, at the top of the sinkhole.

People will come, they will descend, following the spiral windings, to the bottom of the sinkhole and into themselves, into their own souls, as in a procession, in their minds thinking and praying... FULL TEXT

(Franc Černigoj, Contemplation after a Conversation with Damjan Popelar)

Date of Implemetation:

June 2005 (work begun in April 2002)


A karst sinkhole on the Gora Plateau above the town of Ajdovščina, near the Otlica Village in the Primorska Region


Stone; dry construction at the spiral ramp, binder construction at the tower


A spiral ramp of length 95 m and difference in height 12 m; an upright cone of diameter 2.3 m and height 3.7 m

Number of Participants:

25 workers (final work effort); 40 performers (opening)

Implementation Process:

The spiral and the tower are made of local rocks. The wall is in built in dry construction technique, like the ones in the surrounding area. The tower was made with binder for reasons of safety of visitors. I started working by myself and was later joined by friends from the Dolenjska Region.
In the August 2005 work effort, joined by the locals from the Otlica Village, the spiral was finalized, and in April 2005 my father and I completed the tower. June 2005 saw the Stone Spiral as the site of the main cultural event. The place was blessed and the work was symbolically handed over to the locals.

Media Coverage

Television: TV SLO1 (Magnet), TV SLO2 (Dobro jutro), TV Primorka (Kulturni magazin, Novice)
Press Releases: Sobotna priloga Dela, Primorske novice, Živa – priloga Dolenjskega lista, Družina, and two area outlets: Časopis Gora and Grajske novice

Final Event Organized by:

Društvo Zagon Tržišče

Final Event Sponsored by:

Mobitel d. d., Slovenian Armed Forces (Slovenska vojska), Sevnica Commune (Občina Sevnica), Primorje Ajdovščina, KS Tržišče, JSKD, KS Otlica, Pipistrlel Ajdovščina, Inplet Sevnica, Gora Association (Društvo Gora), Ajdovščina Commune (Občina Ajdovščina), Tourism Association of Sevnica Commune (Turistična zveza občine Sevnica), Storitve s kmetijsko in gradbeno mehanizacijo Vidmar Uroš s. p., Slikopleskarstvo Batič Peter, The Musem of Dolenjska (Dolenjski muzej), Mercator Optima d. o. o.