They could have perished forever, but their past glory was restored instead. We present the stories of six Czech brownfields and abandoned industrial structures, which show that even ruins can be transformed into interesting architectural designs.
1. A cultural centre from a screw factory
Libčice nad Vltavou was once an important industrial centre, with screws and bricks among the items manufactured here since the year 1873. A few years ago, industry was replaced by culture. Since 2013, the Hoffmann atelier has been gradually revitalised, with new life being breathed into the old coal mill and boiler house. Thus, the screw factory has a new lease on life. The sound of machinery has been replaced by the buzz of social events, instead of bricks, designer furniture is being sold and the worker’s cafeteria has been replaced by a modern restaurant.
2. With respect to butchery
Another inspirational transformation comes from the portfolio of the Hoffman Atelier, this time in Prague. In 2018, the architects revitalised an industrial building from 1926 that stands in Prague’s Nusle district. The renowned sausage maker, the butcher Antonín Šebek, had his production hall here, now you can find a four-storey office building. The building had fallen into disrepair since the 90s, though the architects managed to preserve the original atmosphere and smokestack here, which they have made accessible. Whoever wants to take a trip down memory lane can take a look inside here. To this day you can still smell the scent of sausages.
3. Theatre presentations in a gas container
In the Ostrava-Vítkovice neighbourhood, you’ll find a perfect example of how to bring run-down industrial buildings back to life. Architect Josef Pleskot breathed new life into buildings that were part of the Vítkovice ironworks. These days, various social events are held in the multifunctional Gong hall, which was created inside an unused gas container. Education, on the other hand, is provided by the Science and Technology Centre, where you can discover the magic of science. A former furnace offers a view of the city. The complex receives the greatest attention in the summer, when the Colours of Ostrava festival is held here. Every year it shows how diverse the Silesian city and old ironworks can be.
4. Formerly cars, now art
A car manufacturer was created here 113 years ago, now artists and ateliers gather behind the large factory windows of Vysočany’s Pragovka factory. You can also find galleries and a café, sports hall and event spaces here. The largest part of the famous complex is still awaiting its reconstruction and so far, the social events are concentrated in the E Factory hall, though other parts of Pragovka should be opening gradually. Thus, one day maybe a fully-fledged artistic quarter could rise up here, enshrouded in the original enchantment of an industrial building.
5. Next station: culture
It used to look pretty bleak for the western wing of the train station in the southern outskirts of Plzeň. This cultural monument was created at the beginning of the 20th century, though it has not served its original purpose since 1986 and gradually fell into disrepair. Passengers simply walked around it. From the year 2000, the civic association Johan provided a cultural programme here, though the building kept languishing. In 2015, it finally got its long-awaited makeover. The rich cultural programme remained, but multifunctional halls and a café were added. Thus, the station got its lost noblesse back and even got a new name: Moving Station.
6. Maximum use, minimum ecological burden
Not only are cultural projects going up on brownfields, but also new industrial buildings. You can find one of these in the Karlovy Vary region, where the new industrial zone Panattoni Park Ostrov North went up in 2018. The Škoda Ostrov factory for trolleybuses used to stand here before it went bankrupt. Today companies can lease logistics facilities here. The project is unique in they managed to re-use 97.8% of the demolition waste during the revitalisation, thanks to which it did not end up in the dump. Most of the rubble was used in the construction of the new buildings without even having to leave the land. Under normal circumstances the lorries that would have transported the waste from the construction site and brought new material would also have represented an environmental burden. Thanks to the sustainable solution, the transport was reduced to a minimum.