ORA adapts a ruined granary in Czech Republic into a graceful ‘House Inside A Ruin’

ORA’s masterful adaptive reuse project, House Inside A Ruin, maintains the original brick skin of a former ruin, encasing it around a modern two-storey home with beige interiors.

by Jincy Iype Published on : Nov 12, 2020

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 raw brick clad façade of House Inside A Ruin | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
The raw brick clad façade of House Inside A Ruin Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

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.

Transformation of a ruin into a private residence | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
Transformation of a ruin into a private residence Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

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.

Path leading up to House Inside A Ruin | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
Path leading up to House Inside A Ruin Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

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.

The new openings shift sometimes from the old skin | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
The new openings shift sometimes from the old skin Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

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.

  • Inside the dwelling | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
    Inside the dwelling Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • Kitchen counter and sink area | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
    Kitchen counter and sink area Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

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. 

  • The double height, open plan living area | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
    The double height, open plan living area Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • Ground floor | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
    Ground floor Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

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.

  • Beige accented bedroom | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
    Beige accented bedroom Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • Bathroom | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
    Bathroom Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

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”.

  • View of the living room from outside | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
    View of the living room from outside Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice
  • View of the living space from the upper floor | House Inside A Ruin by ORA | STIRworld
    View of the living space from the upper floor Image: Courtesy of BoysPlayNice

Project Details

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
Studio: ORA
Principal Architects: Jan Hora, Barbora Hora, Jan Veisser, Tomáš Pospíšil (architect)
Landscape architect: Štěpánka Černá

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