The renovation and extension of the House at Drahomíra’s Column in Loretánské Square in Prague, whose chief purpose is to create a seat for a cultural/educational institution – Václav Havel Library – is an exceptional job in many respects.

  • Location

  • Loretánské náměstí č. p. 108
  • Praha 1
  • Realization

  • 2011 - 2013

The renovation and extension of the House at Drahomíra’s Column in Loretánské Square in Prague, whose chief purpose is to create a seat for a cultural/educational institution – Václav Havel Library – is an exceptional job in many respects.This was the first project where we cooperated with the world’s leading architect, Ricardo Bofill. We were honoured to discuss the nature of the building, the significance of the library and the main accents of the layout requirements directly with Václav Havel, to whom we are grateful for his unique comments, motivation, and the philosophical and humane energy that he could still dedicate to us and the project despite his advanced age. Zdeněk Bakala, a benefactor of the whole campaign and a friend of Václav Havel, supported the project financially in an above-standard way. It was thanks to him that we managed to pull together a superb team of professionals in many disciplines, create excellent research materials that show the possibilities of interdisciplinary dialogue, and elevate the job to an exceptional level.The building is a four-wing structure built in the late 16th century. It is a typical example of Prague’s historic architecture. The original Renaissance building underwent numerous conversions and transformations: High Baroque (interiors along the street facade of the south wing), Late Baroque and Classicist modifications (interiors in the north wing), a height extension of the east wing connected with some layout adjustments in 1870, and finally, an extensive renovation in the 1920s (design approved in 1925), which completed the north (west) wing with an attic conversion of the Renaissance loft, raised the east wing with a third floor, and made radical interventions in the original structures in connection with a new central staircase. This last structural modification involved a partial closure of the access balconies, the addition of outer walls of the south wing towards the courtyard, and a new staircase tower in the south-eastern part of the building which was reminiscent of the Renaissance tower in the opposite corner of the inner courtyard.When designing the renovation of the building in connection with its new use – the establishment of a cultural/educational institution, the Václav Havel Library – as well as the renewal of the residence in the southern portion of the building, we set ourselves several primary objectives:– respect the heritage nature of the building as much as possible along with the authenticity of the preserved, original and other details that document the building’s transformation from the Renaissance to the early 20th century;– create a new architectural footprint that would join the historic layers (if possible in a way that does not impair them aesthetically and physically) and together with them make a new organic whole.

The means of expression of contemporary elements are different from historic techniques; the design deliberately separates all the new parts from the original structures. This is done for both the artistic reasons mentioned above (building epochs have to be perceived in context yet maintain their integrity) and purely practical ones: joints between the new and older components will make it possible to route new utility networks without invading the historic structures, which will remain intact in the event of the “imaginary” removal of the proposed changes.The layout design can be briefly described as follows: the south wing facing Úvoz Street will not change much in terms of use and layout, and the other parts of the building, including the inner courtyard, will be adjusted to contain the Václav Havel Library. This includes a public and non-public section, exhibition rooms, art gallery, lecture rooms, a café, a shop and free-access books, as well as study rooms, offices, archives and flats for guest speakers.A separate phenomenon is the adjustment to the courtyard, which will be converted to a glass atrium. This component is not just another of the many glazed courtyards in Prague, but an embodiment of the idea of a library as a transparent space for education, meeting and dialogue.

  • Studio

Hollarovo nám. 2275/2
130 00 Praha 3 – Vinohrady
50°4'37.402"N 14°28'38.598"E

  • Invoicing

TaK Architects s.r.o.
IČ: 28503864
VAT: CZ28503864

TaK Management s.r.o.
IČ: 07239033
VAT: CZ07239033

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