New Provostry Extensions and Reconstruction / Studio acht

New Provostry Extensions and Reconstruction / Studio acht

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Text description provided by the architects. The New Provostry is a historical building from 1877, built in the neo-Gothic style, adjacent to St. Vitus Cathedral in the heart of Prague Castle. Originally intended as the residence of the provost, the building was confiscated in the early 1950s and has largely remained abandoned since then. During the communist era, the courtyard and associated outbuildings were destroyed, and the main building was used as barracks for construction workers. In 2016, the New Provostry was returned to the Church under the restitution law. The reconstruction concept focuses on reopening the inner courtyard to the public. It offers a unique view over the lower Deer Moat, as no other courtyard on the north castle wall is publicly accessible.

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Two new extensions have been built in the courtyard on the sites of former outbuildings. One will serve as a café, while the other is a versatile commercial unit. Additionally, another commercial unit is located inside the reconstructed building. The extensions feature a strict yet delicate design characterized by glass façade openings. The west extension is designed to be more open and vertical, intended for gastronomic services. The east extension is more compact and closed, suitable for universal use from retail to office space. Despite their similarities in design and openings, each extension maintains its unique identity. The north edge of the courtyard has been enhanced with an overlook and a fountain crafted from granite and bronze. The courtyard is also designed to host outdoor events such as theatrical performances or corporate gatherings. The reconstruction of the main building was carried out as a restoration with minor modifications to enhance openness and remove remnants of the barracks.

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Reconstruction – Primarily, the architectural goal was the preservation of the historic building and the restoration of both its interiors and exteriors. The façade was meticulously restored to evoke its appearance at the end of the 19th century. The interiors were partially restored to their historical state while also being renovated to meet modern standards, resulting in a harmonious blend of contemporary and original features. This blend is exemplified notably in the main staircase, which is complemented by a delicate hollow circle lamp that harmonizes with the strict geometry of the painted wooden ceiling. The building has now resumed its original purpose as the administrative hub of church institutions, notably the Metropolitan Chapter of St. Vitus. The renovation concept is characterized by the use of durable and timeless materials and a symbiosis of original and contemporary color schemes. Faux-grained surfaces were meticulously restored on historic doors and windows, tiles were laid in corresponding formats and patterns, and wooden and parquet floors were either refurbished or reconstructed. New constructions, such as glass partitions, were designed with a contemporary and modest material quality, ensuring a timeless solution.

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Extensions – In the historical footprint of the original outbuildings (stables and coach house), new courtyard extensions have been constructed with an intended commercial use aimed at tourists visiting Prague Castle. On the west side of the courtyard, extending into the northern basement, a small café is expected to operate, while a general business unit is located on the east side. The shape and appearance of the extensions are designed to harmonize with the historical surroundings of Prague Castle while subtly standing out. This balance is achieved by employing timeless forms and materials typical of the castle area, with contemporary details and compositions. One significant detail is the narrow skylight that connects the roof to the north façade of the extensions, creating an interplay of light and shadow in the interiors. Another notable feature is the design of the free corner of the west extension, where the glass extends almost to the edge of the corner, emphasizing the delicate support of the massive roof. Key materials used in the new buildings include sandstone cladding from the Vyhnánov quarry, details crafted from patinated copper, discreet tiled and wooden floors, and a glass facade with subtle steel frames.

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Outlook and Fountain – The idea of installing an outlook that hangs over the edge of the walls originally came from the architect of the reconstructed building, Josef Mocker, although it was never realized. The courtyard renovation design elaborates on this concept and presents a contemporary solution. The fountain consists of a stone obelisk and a basin with a bronze edge. The concept involves water flowing from a cross, washing over the names of three saints, and soaking into the ground. The poem engraved in stone on the outlook was authored by one of the historical provosts who officiated in the old building.

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