by Jincy IypeNov 10, 2022
ORA has revitalised a ruined structure, a former homestead rebuilt into a granary in Czech Republic, into the ecological, insulated and graceful 'House Inside A Ruin'. True to its name, the fresh private dwelling in the town of Jevíčko, Zadní Arnoštov was planted inside the damaged ruin’s red brick skin, laying out a manifesto of how it is possible to treat old structures and breathe into them renewed life, rather than tearing them down and reworking them completely.
The local design studio, based in South Moravia in Czech Republic, shares that they mostly focus on the environment they reside in, the small town and its context. With House Inside A Ruin, the young studio explores a route of adaptive reuse and residential architecture that intertwines the modern with the original without conflicting yet retaining the distinct identities of both.
They recall that despite its previous inconsiderate rebuilding, the structure had not lost all its grandeur and its form resisted time. It appealed to them because of its timeless, romantic soul, the way it stands upon a field of green grass, its gable roof rising up to the open skies. “It was a ruin to the bone. All that was left of the original house was a brick envelope with a roof,” says Jan Hora, Principal Architect, ORA.
Fresh interiors were inserted with the old brick skin and gable roof of the former granary.
Wanting to not pursue a traditional renovation by stripping the ruin down entirely and losing its personality, ORA along with the building owners speculated whether the house had a space to return to. “We proposed to fix the current state of the romantic ruins and enter the house anew,” adds Jan.
House to house, house inside a ruin
The new inserted layer differs in purpose and aesthetic from the previous membranes of the home. A ventilated gap is maintained between the original and new structure, that ever so often, shifts from the old skin and prevents the two from touching. The new windows don’t always coincide with the openings of the old wall, and at some areas, the old wall creeps into the interior. “There is a visual intertwining of the two worlds. The new building penetrates through openings in the old wall, and on the contrary, the old wall enters through new windows,” relays Barbora Hora, also a Principal Architect at ORA.
For the interior design, the ORA team decided to raze the building’s insides and instead of the existing three floor layout, return with two. Preaching sustainable design, Barbora shares that the 250 sqm dwelling is well insulated, designed to meet all current energy standards. “We reused the structurally sound wooden beams as elements of ceilings and truss replacements. Most of the material remained in place, just rearranged,” she adds.
House Inside A Ruin is informed by a warm, simple, beige material and colour palette, that encompasses accents of ash wood for doors and window frames, cement tiles on the floor, spruce boards for beams, glass mosaic, and grey and pastel pink ceramic insulated blocks lining the bathrooms. Warm timber frames the new wide windows, the same shades seen on rugs, the furniture, the staircase railing as well as the bedroom interiors.
Offering conveniences of modern living, visitors are met with a generous, double height, open plan living space that includes a tiled stove, a kitchen and a dining area. Suspension lamps hover from the ceiling over a massive round table in this hall converses with the oak table placed outside, perfect to have evening tea when the weather allows it. Stairs ascend to individual bedrooms with adjoining bathrooms, with views to the quaint landscape outside via huge old walls that frame the views.
The garden is designed without boundaries, to become an intrinsic, natural part of the landscape, complete with verdant orchards, meadow lawns and hawthorns. “The boundary is indicated only by fragments of low walls and a corten gate, and the garden is connected to its surroundings. The garden becomes the binding element between the house, its views and surrounding landscape,” mentions Jan Veisser, who is also the Principal Architect at ORA.
The design team relays that “it is not necessary to demolish, neither to reconstruct dogmatically. At the same time, even in such a case, it is possible to build economically using modern materials and achieve the required parameters”.
Name: House Inside A Ruin
Location: Jevíčko, Zadní Arnoštov, Czech Republic
Client: Sýpka Arnoštov
Built up Area: 250 sqm
Usable Floor Area: 248 sqm
Year of completion: 2020
Principal Architects: Jan Hora, Barbora Hora, Jan Veisser, Tomáš Pospíšil (architect)
Landscape architect: Štěpánka Černá