A7 brewery project helps to reshape neighborhood

The Prague Post

This mixed-use property will include luxury flats and commercial space in Holešovice

Holešovice is in the midst of a great transformation, with local architects and designers taking control of the neighborhood’s historic industrial buildings and remodeling them into exciting new spaces to live and work. The recently completed A7 Holešovice Brewery is yet another example of this district’s continuing revitalization efforts.

“The A7 project has brought new energy to Holešovice,” says Evžen Dub of CMC Architects, the Prague-based design studio that has been involved with A7 since 1999.

Indeed, the three-hectare project contains 155 flats, nine commercial spaces, plus an additional 15,000 square meters of administrative offices and retail space, which include an Albert supermarket and a DM drugstore. The offices are housed in the original brewery complex, while two new structures are primarily given over to flats.

Dub says it’s this type of work-living complex that will help benefit the entire neighborhood.

The site’s original brewery, První pražský met;anský pivovar, was built in 1895 and produced beer, on and off, up through the 1990s. For a brief time in the 1940s, the Uranie theater staged performances in the brewery garden. A pavilion for musicians and a tap room were added on but sadly burned down in 1946. Now, parts of the brewery – including the administrative building, malt house, fermentation building, cooling machine room, brewing house and the circumference wall with two gates – have been declared cultural monuments, thanks to their architectural and historical qualities.

The project’s mix of industrial and modern fits together well and was one of the main things that attracted CMC to the project in the first place. The creative layout, combining the old brewery gate with the new buildings, makes the complex quiet and peaceful.

“Architects and designers are frequently drawn to places which have their own intrinsic history,” explains Dub, A7’s project manager. “We perceived the brewery’s heavy industrial architecture as a priority and endeavored to preserve the industrial spirit of the location.”

Soaring modern black-and-glass buildings bookend the brewery’s original entry gate, while the two new residence buildings are snuggled into the middle of the complex, which is surrounded by grass, trees and benches. A water feature decorates the middle of a parking lot, while residential flower boxes brighten up the balconies. Flats in the newly constructed Plaza and Rezidence buildings are completely sold. Final building approval for flats in the Loft building, one of the original brewery buildings remodeled by CMC, was given in May, and about 40 percent of these have already been sold.

ING Real Estate, the project’s developer, anticipates these units will be a big hit. The Loft flats are indeed attractive. They have high ceilings and a mostly open floor plan. Fourteen flats branch off a long corridor, each with their own private entry “garden.” The front and back “walls” are all windows, which allow for lots of natural light and a quite airy feel. Half of the flats also come with a private staircase to their own rooftop garden. Attic and standard flats are available in the Loft building, as well.

A nod to the site’s industrial heritage and original use can be found scrawled on the Loft building’s entryway and first floor walls. Texts describing industrial architecture and the brewery’s history are painted in orange. Artistic interpretations of beer barrels and other brewery machinery run along the inside corridor here.

CMC’s Dub says architects tried to keep as much of the existing parts of the brewery as possible, including solid walls, steel pillars and trusses and wooden trusses with steel beams. In fact, “all the interiors have [been] maintained [in] the original grand-scale design,” Dub notes. “We honored all the original features and merely complemented those features which were absolutely essential.”

There were other, more pressing hurdles architects had to tackle. “Trying to preserve as much of the original buildings as possible while, at the same time, complying with all the hygiene regulations, as well as meeting the requirements of conservationists and those of the client [was sometimes difficult],” Dub admits. “Bringing new energy to a historic location was complicated, but also a wonderful challenge.”

CMC’s work is hardly done. While a good portion of the project is now complete, the rest of the original brewery complex has been sold to a different owner, who plans to create two office buildings there. CMC plans to be involved in this next chapter, too.

“The new architecture is light and transparent. It creates dialogue,” Dub says. “[I’m pleased] that we managed to preserve the ‘spirit’ of the place.”