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DRN

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Office space and retail to rent:
+420 242 434 200, info@sebre.cz

Location

Lively Národní Boulevard, where we find the National Theatre, the Czech Academy of Sciences and Lažanský Palace, forms the centuries-old boundary between Old Town and New Town. In the section between Spálená Street and the Vltava River, we want to introduce architecture (photos 12345), that will be current, functional and considerate of the existing built-up area (photo 678).

DRN lies in the heart of Prague and near hubs for all types of transport. Within ten minutes, we can walk to Old Town, Wenceslas Square or the Vltava River. A few steps away is a tram connection to the city-centre or across the Vltava, and the Národní třída station on metro line B is just as close. The building is also easily accessible by car or bike, with parking in its underground garages. In the vicinity, there are a range of stores, excellent restaurants, cafés and theatres.

Project and approach

We are constructing a munificent multi-purpose building, thought through in every detail and built in a high-quality manner with efficient systems and respect for the site’s historical context. With the interior arrangement, green terraces (+)(×) and the already mentioned underground garages, we endeavour to accommodate the current needs of corporate life. Moreover, in the first two storeys we will open shops and a public thoroughfare through a green atrium to Mikulandská Street, thereby integrating the building naturally into the quotidian flow of the city (photos 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).

The presence of greenery is one of the principles – along with integrating a rich history with contemporary functionality – that we endeavour to implement to the maximum extent across the whole project. From the third above-ground storey, the building will be hemmed by recessed balconies, which will make time spent both inside it and outside on Národní Boulevard more pleasant. At the same time, the individual storeys with balconies overlooking Mikulandská Street will gradually recede, so that the building will fit in as much as possible with the world of baroque architecture. The eighth above-ground storey, which includes a terrace with a view, will recede also in the direction of Národní Boulevard – in consideration of the Danube Palace, to which our building adjoins. We consider it important for DRN to be well conceived not only in and of itself, but also in the context of Národní Boulevard as a whole.

The palace’s interior spaces have been designed in such a way so as to allow for variable arrangements. The interiors are not designed by template with respect to either appearance or articulation (photos 14, 15). The attic of Schönkirchovský Palace is dominated by an impressive frame with exposed beams built after the model of baroque designs and executed precisely according to traditional timbering methods (photos 16, 17). In the other storeys, original elements are accented or, to the contrary, contemporary materials, concrete and glass are boldly emphasised (photos 18, 19, 20, 21, 22).

The exceptionality of the building itself is underscored by our architects and builders – we endeavour to tie in maximally with the valuable parts of the original Schönkirchovský Palace, where we use original processes in our restoration, and in the building’s newer parts we continue with modern construction methods and materials. Of the technologies used, it is worth mentioning the capillary cooling system, which uses alternative energy sources and the principle of air recovery.

At the start of construction, we also thoroughly familiarised ourselves with the site on which the palace would be built, and did not underestimate the importance of archaeological and construction-historical surveys (+)(×). These were not merely formal responsibilities for us, but rather an opportunity to discover the story that we want to continue (+)(×). The material found will become a valuable functional component of the new building (photos 28, 29, 30) (+)(×). It is evident that we are not trying to construct a historicising edifice, but rather a contemporary building that will be welcoming for its occupants and passers-by alike.

The first exploratory surveys were conducted in 2007 and 2012. Intensive archaeological work began in 2013, which in 2014 transitioned into supervision of the construction works and the surveying of originally inaccessible spaces. A total of 1,526 m2 were surveyed in the historical layers. In addition to surveying the space of DRN itself, the National Heritage Institute also conducts continuous archaeological work in its wider surroundings, which are historically valuable.

Archaeological surveys and finds document the fact that our locality has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Ceramic shards were discovered dating from the late Bronze Age, which archaeologists have re-assembled into the almost perfect shape of a vessel. Another important find is part of a crossbow dating from the 3rd or 4th century A. D.

Discoveries from later periods demonstrate that from the 10th century our site was a lively and used space that formed part of the intensively developing surroundings of early medieval Prague. It is to this period – more precisely to 1178 – which the first evidence of a settlement in the actual space of the future DRN dates. The remains of ten semi-recessed houses were found, as were fireplace remnants, ceramic shards and period coins. A notable and valuable archaeological finding was the conversion of part of the locality in the 12th century to a final resting place for several dozen Praguers of that period.

The following century was marked by calm in the city’s development as a result of the establishment of Old Town and construction of fortifications in its immediate vicinity. Two hundred years later, however, in the 14th century, New Town began to emerge, which once again revived Palác Národní’s surroundings. Archaeological surveys trace in detail the inception and transformations of today’s Schönkirchovský Palace and Winterfeldovský House, the gradual consolidation of the parcel, the demolition and construction of walls and fences, and the existence of wells, fireplaces, rubbish pits and artisan workshops.

Excitement surrounded finds from the late Middle Ages which can be considered unique – an iron sword (photo 23), several dozen small ceramic statues of the Virgin Mary with Baby Jesus, and a sculpture of Jesus as a young man (photo 24). Of value are also relief tiles, the furnishings of households and workshops, and a great number of coins found that were in circulation during the individual centuries (photos 25, 26, 27).

The urban houses and parcels that were created here during the Middle Ages have developed and transformed without interruption until the present day. In its most recent history, one of the significant interventions in the locality of today’s DRN was the demolition in 1966 of two of the houses in connection with the widening of Národní Boulevard. The fact that DRN will be part of a site with a bustling and interesting history of quotidianness that began more than eight hundred years ago is fascinating, and yet also imposes an obligation to respect this rich history.

We endeavoured maximally to preserve the valuable finds of the former Schönkirchovský Palace. Early baroque painted ceilings, frescoes, a spiral staircase in the southern wing and a stone gallery in the north wing will all find their place in the new edifice. In view of the finds, we also opted for sensitive technological approaches in order to preserve the authentic surfaces and historic structures. Thanks to this, for example, pieces of renaissance plastering appear in the office space. Also of value are the commonplace original construction materials – bricks, marl stones, wooden beams and rubble from old paving stones. We want to integrate these into the new building to form a single harmonious whole that will remind visitors of DRN’s history and spark their imagination. The sensitive interconnection of the original and the new can be considered the main aesthetic principle according to which we are shaping Palác Národní.

DRN will be completed and opened to its new tenants and the public in 2017 (photo 31).