Holl and Steinbachová complete interior project in Prague
In collaboration with Czech architect Marcela Steinbachová (from Prague-based office Skupina) Steven Holl Architects has realized the interiors for the Franz Kafka Society in the centre of Prague’s former Jewish quarter.
The 172 square metre project is located in a small courtyard building of a tenement house in close proximity to the Old Town Square, not far from where writer Franz Kafka once lived. The basement, formerly used for laundry and storage, now houses a space for exhibitions, lectures, and concerts, as well as it accommodates Franz Kafka’s private library. The offices of the Franz Kafka Society are located on the first level.
Inside the building openings and inspection holes give its small spaces depth and create visual connections. Newly inserted windows and skylights are deliberately situated off axis to the interiors. They let daylight into the previously dark spaces and also provide unexpected views to the towers of the Maisel Synagogue. All new partitioning in the building, even when carving out spaces for restrooms and a kitchenette, is created exclusively by book shelves. In one half of the building these bookshelves appear in white (offices), the other half is filled with black bookshelves (entry hall). Coming from the central corridor one only sees black bookshelves and when coming from the offices one encounters white bookshelves. A 360-degree rotating door between the corridor and the director’s offices, black on one side and white on the other, reverses white to black.
The flat roof of the courtyard building will be covered with cement tiles displaying the plan of the former Jewish Quarter before its demolition in 1896. This open-air rooftop space will be used for concerts and exhibitions during summer. The courtyard building is accessed through the Franz Kafka bookstore and reference library, both interiors designed by Marcela Steinbachová. www.franzkafka-soc.cz