House of Art

The program of the Centre of Contemporary Art and Architecture and the way the institution works make for a rather challenging architectural task. The proposal had to address questions relating to how a contemporary gallery space works and how exhibiting is done. In a time when art is an incredibly dynamic discipline because it absorbs various types of media including digital presentation, performance and scientific methodology, the major challenge that the architect faces is to define a concept of space that can accommodate all of these multidisciplinary expressions. Equally importantly, another issue the architects had to tackle with regards to the House of Art in Budweis (České Budějovice) was how to reflect this heterogeneity and variety in a listed building situated right on the main square (Přemysla Otakara II).

The building is a part of a row of original townhouses dating as far back as the mid-1300s. The building has been modified a number of times in the past; the last intervention took place in the early 1980s, when its function as well as layout were substantially altered. The layout changes sought to modernize the building, laying emphasis on smooth operation and functionality. The building was finally defined and adapted to suit the purpose it had at that time. However, as the parameters and requirements have changed – and so has the function of the house, an adequate architectural response is needed.

Rather than making a bold architectural gesture, our proposal seeks to reconfigure the space of the existing structure while exercising restraint when it comes to architectural expression. Taking into account the historical value of the building, we decided to be humble — the first thing we did was cleanse it of all the intrusions to the layout. This gave us a rather straightforward layout: four transverse sections defined by the load-bearing structure of the historical building. Tampering with this layout and creating additional sections was not necessary. Four unobstructed transverse sections provide sufficient flexibility for the day-to-day operation of the gallery as well as the municipal offices and the creative centre.

We perceive the gallery as the cultural heart of the city. The whole building is therefore a communication platform facilitating exposure of the public to the cultural events in the building and the city. The ground floor, which is conceived as a concrete plinth, features an information centre and an exhibition space extending to a public arcade and further to the square. The concrete communication and service core takes visitors to the higher floors on which the gallery as such, as well as an education centre and municipal offices are situated. Covered by a generously designed new multi-gable roof, a space that responds to contemporary art trends is found on the highest floor. Conceived as an open multi-purpose platform, the space is connected with a terrace offering views of the city. The roof features three gables, each of which extends upwards from the individual sections of the building, contributing to the richness of the roofscape of the city of Budweis.

House of Art


project: Centre of Contemporary Art and Architecture 
together with:
AFF Architekten, Malý Chmel
team: Georgi Dimitrov, Alžběta Bláhová, Anna Vrzalová,
Miroslav Malý, Natálie Ivkovičová, Miroslav Chmel,
Daniel Struhařík, Martin Ciglbauer, Zdeněk Chmel,
Martin Fröhlich, Jan Bureš, Ulrike Dix 
author: Ulrike Dix (architect, AFF Architekten GmbH),
Martin Fröhlich (architect, AFF Architekten GmbH),
Hanno Schröder (architect, AFF Architekten GmbH),
Miroslav Malý (architect), Zdeněk Chmel (architect),
Miroslav Chmel (architect, partner of Malý Chmel s.r.o.),
Daniel Struhařík (architect, partner of peer collective s.r.o.)
status: ongoing, completed documentation for building permit
topics: transformation, research, roof as a new layer freely
and contemporaneously related to its surroundings, demolition, variability,
new function through renovation, what the gallery space should be
based on: competition, 1st place
images: Ondřej Žvak