The architects of the Czech studio ORA have revived an old manor, which was turned into a barn under the communist regime. Ambitious talented authors call their project a manifesto – an example of how to deal with old buildings.
“Do not be afraid of authentic antiquity. No need to demolish or mindlessly restore. And it always makes sense to use modern materials that save the budget, ”the authors of the project proclaim this approach to reconstruction.
The once prosperous manor in the Moravian town of Jevicko was looted and destroyed in the post-war period, the main building was converted into a warehouse where grain and other agricultural products were stored. “The first thing we did was analyze the building, explore all its joints, niches and ledges, determining what is authentic and what is alluvial,” the architects say.
Despite the destruction and ridiculous alterations, the house has not lost its grandeur. “Its location on the site, its noble silhouette directed to the sky, materials that have been able to withstand time – all this confirms the highest quality of the source.” Having removed the layers, the architects exposed the skeleton, leaving only a brick box under the roof. They returned the original layout with two floors instead of three, restoring the original scale – the result was a return to the original division of the facade. Depending on the needs, additional windows were cut through. Working on the interior, the architects used ash wood, cement tiles, spruce boards, glass mosaics, bricks, ceramic insulated blocks.
“Any attempt at traditional renovation would mean losing the original character of the building. Therefore, we rejected the speculative reconstruction, as well as any other imitations. Instead, they proposed fixing the state of a romantic ruin, and creating a new house inside. A ventilated gap is maintained between the original and new shells: the structures do not touch. The new structure is slightly offset from the old structure in places, the location of the windows does not exactly match the openings in the authentic wall. The two worlds are visually intertwined: the new comes through the holes in the old wall, and vice versa, the old wall comes in through the new windows.
The house offers full comfort of modern life. Guests are received here in a spacious two-height living room with a tiled stove and an island kitchen. The round table in the hall is complemented by a massive oak table on the terrace, where people gather when the weather permits. Stairs lead to bedrooms with private bathrooms. There, hosts and guests can enjoy the peace and beauty of nature: massive old walls frame the landscape like picture frames.
The hell is designed as a continuation of the natural landscape – this was taken care of by the invited landscape architect Stepanka Cerna. There is no physical boundary between the garden and the surrounding landscape, it is only conditionally marked by fragments of low walls and gates in Corten steel. Fruit trees, lawns and hawthorn bushes are the same as outside the site.
ORA is a young studio from the Czech Republic. “We are interested in the environment in which we live. Our main focus is the small city and its context.” The architects know what they’re talking about: they’re based in Znojmo, a charming old town of 36,000 people. which has the reputation of the pearl of South Moravia.