2020

Helfštýn Castle reconstruction

address

Týn nad Bečvou, Czech Republic, GPS 49.5186031N, 17.6287803E

client

Olomouc region

architectural design

Miroslav Pospíšil, Martin Karlík

collaboration

Robert Randys, Lucie Rohelová, Adéla Tomečková, Milena Koblihová, Daria Johanesová

design

2015-2016

construction

2017-2020

photography

BoysPlayNice

awards

winner of the competition Building of the Year 2020 of the Olomouc Region in Reconstruction category

Rising high above the Moravian Gate valley, Helfštýn Castle is the second largest castle complex in the Czech Republic. The castle is one of the most visited sites in the region. However, the castle which was once impregnable had to close down the Renaissance palace ruins in 2014 due to the severe safety hazards such as falling masonry and remains degradation. In order to address the static safety issues the castle owner Olomouc Region made a decision to renovate the palace along with a construction of a new roof, which was required by the castle operator.The past attempts to build the palace roof were not well-received by the National Heritage Institute experts. The Institute insisted on the preservation of the building in the state of a ruin. If the roof was to be put on, it could only be done without increasing the overall mass of the structure and it could only go as high as the level of the peripheral walls.

Our team was assigned to draft an architectural study to be used in the negotiations with the conservationists as well as serve as a core concept for further project planning. We aspired to go beyond the assignment task of creating just a suitable roof solution, because we wanted to involve the guests in the historical development of the palace. This intention sparked a great idea of incorporating the contemporary architectural elements into the historical building and connecting the existing ground floor with the newly accessible higher levels of the palace.

Our concept is based on the respect towards the historical building and it makes major effort to preserve the castle’s authentic character. We have chosen to work with glass on steel beams on the roof. Staircases and footbridges have been made of corten steel, a special iron alloy that undergoes a controlled corrosion, which gradually stabilizes. The rusty modern architecture elements compliment the character of the original structure. As a result, the castle palace acquired a new attractive sightseeing route that allows the visitors to learn about the palace. Additionally, the public can enjoy the sheer views from the previously collapsed ceilings, the walls and even from the roof level. They can discover the surroundings of the castle as well as understand and appreciate the modern architecture.

The preparation of the project was rather unique to us to begin with. We obtained a detailed 3D model of the castle, that was based on thousands of photographs from a drone. This unusual input was very valuable to us, as it mapped all the types of plaster and masonry modifications. Such details would be highly unlikely to capture by traditional measurements of the castle. After two long years of the project planning and securing the building permit, the three-year implementation phase began.