ERA21 #03/2016 Sustainable Dehrowth

kniha editorial

Sustainable Degrowth

Peter Szalay

» entire article


The Future of Brno Centre. Results of the International Urban Planning Competition »

In the first half of May, the City Council approved the results of the international urban planning open competition for the new Brno railway station located under Petrov. The two-round competition was announced on September 7, 2015. In the first round, the jury assessed 57 proposals from Czech Republic, Europe, the United States, and China. Eight studios were called to complete their proposals in the second round. The UNIT team of architects won a keen international competition; second place was taken by Franz Sumnitsch and consequence forma, and Atelier M1 was awarded third place.


kniha detail

Restored School. Adaptation and Extension of an Elementary School in Hovorčovice »

Ondřej Tuček

The reconstruction and finishing of a school in the village of 2 000 inhabitants, situated on the edge of Prague, is based on a contrast between the original building from 1850’s and the new extension. Both objects differ at first sight, both in form (gable vs. flat roof) as well as in façade material (regular plaster vs. brick slips cladding) and window morphology. The original building was restored to its initial archetypal form, emphasizing its historical importance and dominant role in local urbanism. The new building, connected by a neck on the spot of the existing staircase, uses the school plot and leaves an open space for a playground and garden.

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Deconstruction »


The term “Deconstruction”, in the realm of building, refers to a form of reverse assembly: the careful dismantling of the constituents of a building. Contrary to traditional demolition, which is destructive, deconstruction aims at the re‑use of components. In earlier times, in other places, it was just plain common sense not to trash a sound material; most building components were re-used, sometimes more than once. Today, materials that leave a demolition or refurbishment site are destined for more or less subtle forms of destruction. They will be dumped or incinerated, or transformed into secondary raw materials (re- or down-cycled). The procedures – logistic, administrative, legal – that would allow a non-violent extraction, and reintegration of these materials in new buildings, simply aren’t ready yet, despite the goodwill of public authorities expressed in solemn pledges for a “circular economy”.

starting point

Do Not Grow »

Peter Szalay

Exactly twenty years ago one of the “most iconic” works of architecture was built holding a mirror up to the usual projective thinking of architects. The adaptation of Place Léon Aucoc by Lacaton & Vassal brought along something unprecedented; architects decided not to build anything new on a small triangular square on the periphery of Bordeaux. They didn’t propose landscape adaptations, they didn’t replace benches or lamps, they didn’t even plan new plants; they only proposed a small adjustment to traffic and a schedule of maintenance. The hardest and most time-consuming work was convincing the municipal authority that their proposal was not a refusal to work on the project but an intentional architectonic intervention – it is best as it is.


It Is High Time We Started Living the Notions. Eva Fraňková Interviewed by Peter Szalay »

Ecological economics sounds a bit like an oxymoron. It is the field of interest for Eva Fraňková from the Department of Environmental Studies at the Faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University in Brno. She is one of the few Czech experts active in the Degrowth movement which is increasingly important in the sphere of environmental thinking and practice. In this interview she not only describes the theoretical foundations and challenges of Degrowth, but also shares her own experiences of life in the “degrowth” community and with architecture.

completed project

Despite Regulations. Antivilla at the Krampnitzsee »

Brandlhuber+ Emde, Burlon

The reconstruction of the former East German tricot factory Ernst Lück, located by the Krampnitzsee, southwest of Berlin, does not aim for the mere physical upgrade of the outer shell. Instead, it questions the mandatory standards in current building regulations by proposing a new understanding of architecture and environment. Antivilla serves as a weekend house and place of exile for Berlin artists but it is the opposite of usual opulent residences. It is an extreme case study of sustainable construction that thematizes Germans' obsession with thermal insulation.

completed project

ABC of Incremental Housing »

Alejandro Aravena, Gonzalo Arteaga, Juan Cerda, Victor Oddó, Diego Torres / ELEMENTAL /

Out of the 3 billion people living in cities today, 1 billion live below the poverty line. By 2030, 2 of the 5 billion people that will be inhabiting cities, will be living below the poverty line. This means that every week we will have to build a city for 1 million people with a budget of 10,000 dollars per family. Given the magnitude of the housing shortage, we won’t solve this problem unless we add people’s own resources and building capacity to that of governments and the market. That is why we thought of putting in place an OPEN SYSTEM, able to channel all the available forces at play. In that way people will be part of the solution and not part of the problem.


We Are Testing our Projects through Practice. Jane Hall from the London-based Studio Assemble Interviewed by Emma Pecháčková »

Victorian terraced houses are the essence of British architecture. In 1993, Rachel Whiteread received the Turner Prize for her statue House which was a concrete cast segment of an English terraced house. Twenty- two years later, this prestigious prize was awarded to a group of classmates for their project that once again uses the symbol of an English terraced house. The nomination of Assamble has taken by surprise both the professional public and the architects themselves. Their previous projects eliminated the boundaries between the roles of architect, curator, and artist. This is manifested in the furnishings of the studio where they work, Sugarhouse. It isn’t a surgically clean minimalism, which most architects would prefer as their workspace, but a perfectly equipped workshop with a wide range of tools. For Assamble, building is a parallel of playing, as their member Jane Hall confirmed.


A Year in the Country. Conversion of a Barn into a Family House »

Naďa Klimešová

Last winter we moved away from Prague. We didn’t have exaggerated romantic ideas about village life. We just wanted to live freely. When we began our search for a future house we were looking for a barn from the very beginning. In barns, spaces are large, you don’t have to adapt to the lifestyle of the previous owners, the surrounding development is fixed and it won’t be changed as much as undeveloped sites. And, last but not least, barns are cheaper than houses. Also, we were looking for a place where both we and our children will be able to move around freely.

completed project

Live, Work and Learn Together. Student and Homeless Housing VinziRast-mittendrin in Vienna »

Alexander Hagner a Ulrike Schartner / gaupenraub+/- /

VinziRast-mittendrin is an internationally unique common social housing project in Vienna's District 9. Socially, economically, and mentally weak people are increasingly being pushed to the fringes of society today because of growing financial instability and intolerance. However, life in a community and being respected is encouraging and can heal wounded souls. VinziRast offers coexistence for university students and people who have lost their homes, based on mutual respect and shared experiences, which is reflected in its architectonic solution.


Independent Cultural Centres »

Peter Lényi

Why do independent cultural centres emerge? These are spaces allowing self-expression, the development of critical thinking, and freedom to breathe in the midst of inconvenient social conditions. These places have their own spatial needs and bring new architectonic premises based on the use of the old, on universality, and permanent incompleteness.


Concentration of Creativity. The Examples of Coworking Centers in Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia »

There are dozens, if not hundreds of deserted and run-down buildings in every town. Their potential attracts (although not exclusively) the creative professions, which do not crave modern office spaces with air conditioning and reserved parking spots. The dream of owning a huge studio is fading away. Studios and artists merge in creative hubs – the main priorities are fast Internet, inspirational space and a creative collective. The conversion of a space is often carried out by the groups themselves, gradually and with a limited budget. We have chosen a few examples to illustrate how such entities operate, how they are financed, what they have to offer and who are among their usual users.

completed project

Kindergarten in a Video Shop. Conversion of a Commercial Space into a Kindergarten in Berlin »

Jan Rösler Architekten

The 750 m2 single-storey building, a former video shop, is almost completely set into a slope. The only source of daylight is a glass street front. Thus, while designing the kindergarten, the most important task was to bring enough light into the eighteen-metre deep trapezoidal disposition without any significant impact on the original building.

completed project

Fusion. Factory Building in Nový Dvůr Abbey »

John Pawson

The regular daily cycle of monastic life in the Cistercian tradition, observing the Rule of St. Benedict, consists not only of prayers and study but also of manual work. In Nový Dvůr, they make hand cream and packaged mustard which ensures sufficient income for the monks to cover the everyday expenses of life in the monastery. A single-storey workshop is designed and located on the site in order to connect to the existing trajectories of the residents without significantly changing the architectonic character of the whole complex. At the same time it brings new textures and materials into the architectonic language of the existing buildings, which were designed and reconstructed previously by the same architect.


Building from Waste. Future Garden and Pavilion ETH Zurich at IdeasCity, New York »

Dirk E. Hebel a Philippe Block / Katedra architektury ETH Curych /

The IdeasCity festival, regularly organized in several US cities by New York's New Museum, took place in New York itself in May 2015. It's aim is to connect design, arts, and culture with an exploration of the current phenomena of life in cities. For this occasion, teachers and students at ETH Zurich designed a 90 m2 pavilion made from recycled beverage packaging. The project was a manifestation of the unused potential of waste in construction.


Mine From a Mountain. Mining in the Digital Age – Revolution 5.0 »

Tereza Kvapilová, Norbert Obršál, Matěj Jindrák

Superstudio, the ideas competiton for architectural students, inspired in Australia, is specific because the teams have only 24 hours from assignment of the task to public presentation. This year’s topic concerned the recycling of buildings, or parts of them condemned for demolition, and was co-prepared with Maarten Gielen, founder of Brussels-based collective Rotor and a recent winner of the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture (in 2015). One of the proposals to be awarded was the project Mine From a Mountain, which used the infrastructure of ski resorts, which are going bankrupt due to the long-time shortage of snow caused by climate change, to manufacture virtual currency – bitcoins.


Ruin Pubs. The Phenomenon of Ruin Pubs in Budapest »

Abandoned houses, old courtyards, empty basements. These places are abundant in Budapest and have been raising interest for the past 10 years. Many of them have been transformed into temporary, permanent, or seasonal pubs and bars with dim atmospheres, unusual interiors, and long opening hours that attract lots of visitors. The instruction is simple: all you need is to find an empty space in old Pest, remove useless layers, and instead of a thorough reconstruction just enhance the historic atmosphere of the place using simple tools or artistic concepts at a minimal cost.



Chimney Penetrations in Passive Buildings

Miroslav Drobník, Stanislav Paleček


Intelligent Control Systems from the User's Perspective. Lubomír Kuča Interviewed by Zuzana Morávková

Rozhovor Zuzany Morávkové s Lubomírem Kučou


Materials Suitable for Passive House Construction

Libor Hrubý


Thermally Toughened Safety Glass in Accordance with the CSN EN 12150 Regulation

Miroslav Sázovský

completed project

Tower above Lužánky. Multifunctional Building Lužánky Residence in Brno »

Martin Komárek, Alena Nováková Stehlíková, Martin Rudiš / Rudiš-Rudiš architekti /

The former Snaha shoe factory, on an exposed corner next to Brno's Lužánky Park, was replaced by an almost 50-metre-high multifunctional building consisting of two units: a 16-storey tower and an 8-storey block which are connected by an underground garage. A freely accessible plaza was created between the buildings, with two independent entrances to the commercial and administrative spaces on the first two floors; the upper floors offer a hundred apartments of various sizes.

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