Embellished: Architectural interventions at the castle in Litomyšl
Architects: Šépka architekti, HŠH architekti
Location: Litomyšl (CZ)
The imposing main building embellished in sgraffiti is directly opposite the carriage house on the castle courtyard, and along with the riding school describes a triangle with a landscape park starting between the castle and riding school on the side to the north. It is in this total area that HŠH architekti – which now works as Šépka architekti – have reorganised spatial conditions both indoors and outdoors.
A jewel: the riding school
The earliest references to the riding school date back to its construction in the mid-17th century. In the 1970s the building underwent extensive modification in order to create an upper level for accommodation of an archive. This involved various measures including installation of a concrete ceiling, which has now been retained as the sole reminiscence of the earlier alteration work. The architects removed all the other, more recent modifications and additions and also restored the entry portal to approximate the original state of the riding school as closely as possible. The project investor's wish for the building was to gain a multi-functional and variable space for events ranging from chamber music concerts to film screenings, conferences and exhibitions. To meet these complex requirements, a two-part spatial object mounted on rails has been inserted into the hall. Part of it is stationary and contains a technical area and changing rooms for the performers, while the anterior part can be moved to various points on the rails to change the proportions of the room and thus adapt its acoustics to the respective event. The floor features individual, height-adjustable platforms that can be used to form either a stage or tiers of seating. The spatial object comes with a steel framework and is covered in translucent laminate given an amber hue to symbolise a piece of jewellery that does not does not detract from the historical building but rather enriches it.
A combination of steel framework and translucent laminate facing has also found use in the former carriage house, whose rooms – thanks to the building's favourable siting on the courtyard – now accommodate culinary facilities, including an outdoor seating area. The second floor continues to house the castle's administrative offices. The exterior has been provided a light-coloured lime plaster finish, thus clearly marking the carriage house as part of the ensemble of castle buildings.
Enlivened outdoor space
The measures for the outdoor spaces begin in the castle courtyard itself, where a temporary pavilion has been set up to accommodate the children's programme in summer. Like the new elements installed in the riding school and carriage house, the pavilion has a steel framework and at the same time features triangular elements that contain panels in different textures, thus encouraging climbing or protectively arching over the space like the roof a tent.
In the course of the project, the landscape park was also modified by the architects. In the process the main focus was placed on a watercourse. This arises at the highest point of the grounds and follows a route devised using computer technology and oriented to a Voronoi diagram, meaning it is always the greatest possible distance from the next tree. Benches given a crystalline form accompany the pathway through the park.