DYNAMICS MEETS SIMPLICITY
Prague’s Holešovice district, located on a peninsula in a meander of the Vltava River, has changed dramatically since the last century. The old industrial working class district has become the administrative and cultural centre of Prague. Within the regular grid urbanism of the area we now find several architectural accomplishments that have been developed during the last twenty years, including the prestigious DOX art centre and the reconstruction of an old brewery complex into offices. The latest completed project is the monumental ArtGen administrative centre, creating a place for work, art and leisure.
ArtGen, developed by PPF Real Estate, has found its place on the undeveloped space on Argentinská Boulevard, very close to Holešovice marketplace. The office complex provides 23,000 square metres of leasable units and consists of two separate buildings- the geometrically disciplined ‘Gen’- three six-storey blocks connected into one structure - and the dynamic nine-storey ‘Art’ that separates the busy traffic of Argentinská Street from the quieter residential area behind the complex. Between these two components, a green square was created that gives the place new urban qualities. “We conceived ArtGen as an urban space that is constantly alive. We wanted the building to be unique, personal and optimistic. That’s why we created plenty of places where you can sit down to read a book or chat with your colleagues.”
PPF Real Estate asked CMC architects, one of the largest and most active Czech architectural firms today, to design an open and flexible administrative building, which will attract sophisticated clients because of its advantageous location, free-minded spirit and the art-related concept of the building. The project also showcases several artworks outside as well as inside the building, including art by prolific Czech artists Jakub Berdych, Jan Uldrych and Jan Novotný. “Since the beginning our philosophy was to bring art into office spaces. In this area of Prague we connect art, modern architecture and a timeless approach, combined with excellent access to the city center. Art accompanies all communications related to ArtGen and is also part of the architectural design of both buildings, “explains Michal Dostál, marketing manager at PPF Real Estate. “Positioned in this exciting, transforming part of Prague, the urban strategy of the location was clear: exceptional morphology in a sculptural, tower-like, gateway building, combined with a smaller block-like structure assimilating the scale of the neighbourhood,” says CMC-architect David Chisholm, who founded CMC with colleague Vít Máslo.
The Art building dominates the project. The architects imprinted an expressive dynamic appearance into its steel and glass façade. It looks almost as if the static façade of the building moves, like architecture changed into a liquid emulsion. This dynamic form was created by using steel profiles placed in the diagonal direction of the façade. It creates a strong graphical quality in the building. The rounded edge and sloping roof of Art echo a natural, organic form which now dominates the skyline of the Holešovice area.
Gen contrasts with the movement energy of Art and was conceived in a more rational and controlled expression
“Gen contrasts with the movement energy of Art and was conceived in a more rational and controlled expression, as it closes the block and holds the street edge with the neighbouring buildings. The Gen building is inspired by the simplicity and functional premise of the entire district with its industrial heritage,” tells Chisholm. The two juxtaposed buildings have contrasting forms, yet sensitively complement each other, especially with their muted industrial colour scheme. Between them is the airy and open green outdoor area, which balances the architectural volumes of ArtGen with the surrounding area. It creates the ideal place for relaxation and enjoyment. “The central plaza has a perimeter of smaller streets and green islands where people can find refuge at midday under the shade of trees, or interact with co-workers on an afternoon break”, adds the architect. “ArtGen uses a variety of modern and environmentally friendly technologies - including, for example, rainwater used for toilet flushing”, adds Dostál. “The prestigious Leed Gold certification means that the ArtGen building achieves the best possible results. This gives our clients the certainty that the building is not only environmentally friendly, but it also confirms the high quality”, he says.
David Chisholm was born in 1960 in the United States. Together with Chech architect Vít Máslo (1964) he established CMC architects (Chisholm Maslo Company) in 2003. This international studio, based in Prague, is engaged in environmental design, urban planning and architecture. The studio realizes various projects in different countries: besides Czech Republic, also in Germany, Montenegro, Romania, USA, Ukraine and Vietnam. CMC’s team exists of engineers, architects and artists and collaborated with well known companies like Atelier Jean Nouvel, MVRDV, ARU P and Norman Foster. “Architecture is a way of life, a philosophy of positive interaction with this complex world, people and places. We aspire to inspire, leaving in our lifetime vestiges of the energies and atmospheres created by our works”, Chisholm says.
- Marek Hrubý
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