together with engineering office JIKA-CZ, architectural studio ohboi has won a competition to design the new depository of the national gallery prague. the building is to be erected on the outskirts of the czech capital and it’s designed as a ‘positive catalyst’ for the edge of the city. the boxy architecture will contain most of the gallery’s valuable collections, a large part of which will be publicly accessible through the open show depot.
images courtesy of ohboi
the site of the new depository is on the edge of a slope overlooking the valley. the building neighbors a block of flats from the soviet era and a large shopping mall that’s set to be closed and turned into a mixed-use and residential district. with its prominent position and glowing metallic façades, ohboi‘s intervention intends to provide a positive landmark for the area, and a clear gesture of revitalization. the close surroundings of the building will be used as an outdoor accessible lapidary, the public park. this will help cultivating the place, which is now on the fringes of society’s interest.
the depository itself is designed as three almost separate volumes. the reason behind this is the request to stage the construction. the first stage should be rather quick, so the collections now placed in famous functionalism fair trade palace can be moved here and the fair trade palace is then set to be refurbished.
the shape and look of the building are strictly based on the program and its unusual requests. there are three distinct parts, the building needed to house. the depository itself, the open accessible depository and the laboratories, ateliers, offices, etc. the depository, which is a special kind of storage, is designed as a safe vault elevated over the rest of the building. it is accessible only via heavily guarded elevators. from the outside, it is the most visible part of the building, the large cube shaped volumes.
the lower part of the building combines the accessible depository in the middle of the building’s layout surrounded by the small rooms with laboratories, workshops and offices. these rooms have much lower scale compared to the rest of the building and create the mountain-like shape, that crumbles and carefully opens to the outside.
the open depository is designed as a closed loop, in which visitors will have the opportunity to see the art pieces never seen before and to them in a way usually not possible. there is the double height space in the centre of the building, which can be used as laboratory and testing ground for curators – with its fully movable walls and ceiling, equipped with the variety of the lights and the potential to simulate wide range of scenarios, it will be used to see the art pieces as desired before the moving to the exhibition itself.
the outdoor appearance of the building balances on the thin line of contrasts. between the need to preserve and guard the valuable collections and to open the grounds for public use. the materials and the shape of the building also twist and turn the way the building operates. the largest volumes, the protective and heavy vault is designed with light metallic façade that reflects the surroundings, while the formally open lower part of the building is made of prefab concrete blocks, that while rough on the edges, allow the building to connect with the lush greenery that surrounds it.
form follows function
name: national gallery prague depository
location: prague, czech republic
edited by: lynne myers | designboom